Around 50 activists protested outside the police headquarters on Tuesday to protest against the government’s ban on a pro-independence party.

Security chief John Lee issued a ban of the Hong Kong National Party (HKNP) on Monday, citing the Societies Ordinance on the grounds of “national security, public safety, public order, protection of freedom and the rights of others.” The HKNP is the first group to be banned using the law after the 1997 Handover.

The protesters urged Hong Kong to protect freedom of speech and freedom of association.

hong kong hknp ban
Photo: HKFP/Kris Cheng.

Lawmaker Claudia Mo said it would not be the first time for the government to suppress political groups, and it will not be the last.

Before the ban, Chinese leader Han Zheng told Secretary for Security John Lee that the Hong Kong government should handle the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party in accordance with the law.

“Lee told reporters that ‘I made the decision myself’ – would you believe it?” Mo said.

hong kong hknp ban
Photo: HKFP/Kris Cheng.

“If they say you are violent, then you are; if they say you are illegal – then you are,” she added.

“We must tell Carrie Lam that we are not taking this lying down.”

Former lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung of the League of Social Democrats compared the ban to the death of Taiwanese activist Cheng Nan-jung in 1989.

At the time, Cheng was charged by the KMT government with insurrection for his pro-independence publications. He refused to appear in court. When the police attempted to break into his office in order to arrest him, he committed suicide by self-immolation.

hong kong hknp ban
Photo: HKFP/Kris Cheng.

Leung quoted Cheng as saying that Hong Kong people should have “100 per cent freedom of speech.”

“The people are above the country; Human rights are above the regime,” he said. “Shame on stripping freedom of speech and freedom of association.”

Wayne Chan, convenor of pro-independence alliance Students Independence Union, said the Chinese Communist Party was trying to suppress all opposing voices.

“Today they draw the line [at independence]. But no-one knows what constitutes supporting an illegal organisation, and under what conditions you will be arrested,” Chan said.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.