A Hong Kong church whose volunteers have provided humanitarian support to pro-democracy protesters says its bank account has been frozen in the second such incident in days,

The Good Neighbour North District Church said in a Facebook post that its account with HSBC, as well as the accounts of its pastor Roy Chan and his wife, were frozen on Monday “without any prior notification nor justification.”

"Safeguard Our Generation" volunteer Grandpa Wong
“Safeguard Our Generation” volunteer Grandpa Wong. Photo: May James/HKFP.

The church was the organiser of “Safeguard Our Generation,” a group of volunteers who attempted to de-escalate violent clashes between protesters and police during last year’s anti-extradition bill protests.

The church also runs hostels for homeless people, providing 30 free places in three districts.

Later on Tuesday, at 2:30pm, the church said on Facebook that police officers from the Narcotics Bureau Financial Investigation unit raided their Kwun Tong premises with a search warrant. They said officers wished to contact the church pastor and directors.

‘Political retaliation’

In a statement addressed to HSBC’s deputy chairman and CEO, Peter Wong, the church called the freeze “political retaliation” and urged the bank to restore access to the accounts.

“This is no doubt an act of political retaliation. In the past year, our group ‘Safeguard Our Generation’ mainly comprised of middle-aged and elderly volunteers, was determined to offer humanitarian aid to protesters at the frontline…” the statement read.

“In 2016, our church became a registered charity (IR No.: 91/14411). All the funds raised are legal donations from parties who wish to support our actions on serving the needy, including those who are being ignored.”

The incident came three days after the freezing of accounts held by now-exiled democrat Ted Hui and his family at HSBC and other banks, after police alleged he had misappropriated money from a crowdfunding campaign.

The church also had several crowdfunding campaigns, including one for emergency housing for those hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and another one for hiring officers at the church.

National security law
Photo: GovHK.

“My salary crowdfunded by Hong Kong people is frozen. The capital of the church I work for is all frozen,” said social worker Lau Ka-tung on Facebook.

“The purge has never ceased, just like the asset-freezing case of the self-exiled Democrats, Mr. Ted Hui and his family. Such [an] incident has severely eradicated dissent in Hong Kong, suppressing freedom among religions and community service workers,” the church said in the statement.

The church has started an online petition to seek the unfreezing of the accounts.

HKFP has asked HSBC and police for comment.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.