Hong Kong police seek ban on pro-independence party | News | DW | 17.07.2018
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Hong Kong police seek ban on pro-independence party

Amid growing concern for Hong Kong's freedoms, the territory's police has sought to ban a pro-independence group. The move comes as China attempts to tighten its grip on the semi-autonomous region.

Hong Kong police on Tuesday commenced action to shut down a pro-independence party that promotes secession from China.

The Hong Kong Security Bureau sent a letter to Hong Kong National Party (HKNP) founder Andy Chan telling him he had until August 7 to "make representations in writing" as to why it should not be banned, according to the party's social media page, which posted photos of the letter.

Read more: Hong Kong's democracy movement 'needs new ideas'

The letter said the secretary for security had received a recommendation that it was "necessary in the interests of national security or public safety, public order or the protection of human rights" to prohibit the operation of the HKNP.

Hong Kong is a semi-autonomous territory within China that is governed under a "one country, two systems" principle.

It is the first time since the former British colony's return to Chinese rule in 1997 that it has attempted to ban a political organization.

Hong Kong's secretary for security, John Lee, said Tuesday he was considering the request made by police to ban the HKNP, which is one of the leading groups in Hong Kong's pro-independence movement.

"In Hong Kong we have freedom of association, but that right is not without restriction," Lee told reporters.

'I will never stop'

Chan, 27, told news organization Reuters that he would need to consult lawyers on his next step, but pledged to continue pushing for independence.

"I will never stop in my pursuit of freedom, human rights, equality and dignity," Chan said.

While Hong Kong enjoys a high level of autonomy and freedoms China doesn't have, such as freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, there is increasing concern that those rights are under threat from a forceful China under President Xi Jinping.

Read more: Opinion: Hong Kong's rift with China is growing

Hong Kong's independence movement gained momentum following mass pro-democracy rallies in 2014 that failed to win reforms.

Pro-independence campaigners have been barred from running for office and others disqualified from the legislature, including Chan, who was blocked from standing for a seat in the city's Legislative Council.

Leading independence activist Edward Leung was jailed for six years in June on rioting charges after clashes with police in 2016.

law/kms (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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