Hongkongers have raised HK$540,000 for activists facing prosecution for taking part in the 2014 Occupy movement during this year’s July 1 democracy march.

The Justice Defence Fund attracted the largest amount of donations among all groups who participated in the march. It was originally set up to raise money for the legal fees of lawmakers Leung Kwok-hung, Nathan Law, Lau Siu-lai and Edward Yiu, who are facing a government judicial review to disqualify them from their seats.

But last month, the Fund announced it had raised enough for the four legislators and would use any additional funds to support Occupy activists facing prosecution.

The Democratic Party and the Labour Party also pledged to donate all the money they raised on Saturday – minus expenses – to the fund, reported Apple Daily.

Donations decline for traditional parties

Yet most pro-democracy parties saw a decline in donations compared to last year’s march. The turnout this year was also much smaller – 60,000 people compared with 110,000 in 2016. The Civic Party saw the largest drop in donations, raising only HK$260,000 compared to last year’s HK$441,000.

One exception was the League of Social Democrats, which was heavily involved in protests as Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Hong Kong this week. On the morning of July 1, members Avery Ng and Figo Chan claimed they were assaulted by officers after being taken into a police van. They were attempting to stage a protest near the inauguration ceremony of Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

Police hold down a protester on the morning of July 1. Photo: LSD.

The League of Social Democrats raised HK$88,000 more this year than in did in 2016.

The Professionals Guild – a new coalition of pro-democracy lawmakers elected by professional constituencies – received HK$192,000 in donations.

‘More enthusiastic atmosphere’

Au Nok-hin, convener of march organiser the Civil Human Rights Front, told HKFP he believed that the public wished to support activists facing prosecution and “unfair” treatment from law enforcement.

“I think the marchers this year cultivated a more enthusiastic atmosphere,” he said. “They have a clearer goal… to support resistance fighters and persecuted political groups.”

Photo: Dan Garrett.

“Maybe this is reflected in the donation figures,” he added.

Au said that the Civil Human Rights Front will tally its own funds on Monday night. Groups participating in the march are usually asked to give one tenth of the donations they receive to the Front for operating expenses.

Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.