By Kelly Ho and Tom Grundy

Hong Kong activists Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, Jeffrey Ngo and Agnes Chow have announced they will withdraw from pro-democracy group Demosisto hours after Beijing passed national security legislation for Hong Kong.

Both made the announcement on Facebook on Tuesday morning, around two hours after China’s top legislative body passed a law that is set to criminalise secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in Hong Kong.

Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Nathan Law
Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Nathan Law of Demosisto. File photo: 戈 via CC 2.0.

Demosisto was founded in 2016 as a political platform and sought to field candidates for legislative elections. However, its candidates were repeatedly barred from standing for election with authorities citing their stance on “self-determination” for the city.

‘Political imprisonment’ fears

Wong said that, under the newly-passed national security legislation, it was no longer “nonsense” for pro-democracy figures to worry about their lives and personal safety. He cited concerns over a 10-year “political imprisonment,” as well as being extradited to China, saying “no one could be sure [what would happen] tomorrow.”

He said in the face of his “dire destiny,” he had to resign from his role as the group’s secretary-general and continue advocating for his beliefs individually.

“I believe at this moment, there are countless pairs of eyes in the world caring about Hong Kong, and gazing at my personal situation under the national security legislation. I will continue to defend my home – Hong Kong – until they silence, obliterate me from this piece of land,” Wong wrote.

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Pro-independence group Hong Kong National Front also said on Facebook that it would disband its local members starting on Tuesday. The group said its overseas divisions in Taipei and the UK would take over the work of the Hong Kong division and continue to promote independence.

Studentlocalism – which also advocates for an independent Hong Kong – said it would do the same, and establish overseas divisions in Taiwan, the US and Australia to handle the organisation’s ongoing work.

Law to be enacted

Speaking to media after the morning session of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee meeting, Hong Kong’s sole delegate Tam Yiu-chung did not make clear whether the national security law would be retrospective and applicable to the now-former Demosisto leaders.

“Perhaps there are still a few hours before the law is officially announced. After reading the full text of the law, everyone should be clear, because every crime has its definition,” Tam said in a video chat with reporters.

Hong Kong Free Press is a new, non-profit, English-language news source seeking to unite critical voices on local and national affairs. Free of charge and completely independent, HKFP arrives amid rising concerns over declining press freedom in Hong Kong and during an important time in the city’s constitutional development.