The Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), the coalition behind the giant pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in 2019, announced its self-dissolution on Sunday, citing a crackdown on protest in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.
“Civil society faces unprecedented difficult challenges,” the movement said in a statement.
Founded in 2002 and advocating nonviolence, CHRF has been the source of many mass protests in Hong Kong, including the 2019 protests that sometimes gathered more than 1 million people in this city of 7.3 million.
These demonstrations, sometimes violent, led to a powerful seizure of central Chinese power.
Beijing notably imposed a national security law in 2020 criminalizing, in effect, the expression of any form of dissent in Hong Kong. More than sixty people were arrested under this brutal provision.
Many members of the opposition and Western capitals accuse Beijing of reshaping the former British colony in its image, putting an end to the “one country, two systems” principle that governed the handover in 1997.
On the other hand, China claims that the National Security Law was necessary to restore order in Hong Kong after the 2019 protests.
Most CHRF activists have been arrested and imprisoned, including former movement leaders Jimmy Sham and Viggo Chan.
Another 30 civil society organizations have dissolved themselves out of fear of repression, according to a tally updated by AFP.
On August 10, Hong Kong’s largest union, the Professional Teachers’ Union (PTU), with 95,000 members which also played an important role in the pro-democracy movement, was significantly deflated.
A few days ago, Chinese state media published articles on the union, calling it a “malignant tumor that must be removed.”
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