Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protest coalition has said that they will not organise this year’s July 1 protest, citing administrative difficulties and the city’s political environment.

Chung Chung-fai, temporary convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), told HKFP on Sunday that the coalition decided not to organise the traditional annual protest on the 24th anniversary of the city’s Handover to China.

Photo: Joshua Kwan/United Social Press.

Chung said that the decision was made in a CHRF unofficial meeting on Friday, as the group felt that it would not be possible to obtain police approval under the current political environment.

“First of all, we no longer have a secretariat, I’m the only one in the secretariat, as I am the temporary convenor. Fundamentally, it’s impossible, administration wise, to organise a large-scale event,” said Chung.

“Secondly, you all know that, under the current political environment, and the police said that CHRF is not a registered organisation, we assessed that if we use the name of CHRF to apply for any event, it’s likely that the application will not be approved.”

The July 1 protest last year was banned by police for the first time in 17 years, after officials cited Covid-19 concerns.

‘Historical mission completed’

The police requested the CHRF hand in six items related to its operations in April, and accused the organisation of violating the Societies Ordinance as the force said that CHRF continued to operate as a society following the cancellation of its registration in 2006.

The temporary convenor also said that CHRF has “completed its historical mission,” as he believed that the police would not approve any application made by the organisation to hold protests or rallies in the future.

The protest on July 1, 2020. Photo: May James/HKFP.

“Over all these years, CHRF isn’t really an organisation, we are more like a platform, and July 1 [protests] are a platform for organisations or Hong Kong individuals to express Hong Kong people’s opinion and discontent,” said Chung.

“We assessed that even without the brand of CHRF, I believe that Hong Kong people will still come out on July 1 to express their opinion.”

Chung added that the organisation will discuss whether to disband in a meeting in September, where a new convenor might also be elected.

“We can’t avoid this question, at the end of the day, we still need to discuss whether CHRF will disband, or suspend its operations, or other way outs in the meeting then,” he said.

The coalition has been facing increasing difficulties following the decision of several member groups to leave CHRF. Figo Chan, CHRF’s convenor, has also been sentenced to 18 months in jail over a banned protest on China National Day in 2019.

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Candice Chau

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.