The Progressive Lawyers Group (PLG) has announced it is disbanding – the latest in a growing list of pro-democracy organisations to shut down in Hong Kong in the wake of a sweeping national security law imposed by Beijing last year.

The group’s convenor, barrister Billy Li, confirmed the disbandment to HKFP on Monday, but refused to disclose more details as to the reason.

july 1 progressive lawyers group
Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

The group’s website and social media accounts, including its Facebook page and Twitter account, were no longer accessible.

“Finally, I want to thank Hong Kong people. We really appreciate you all over the past few years, and we feel really honoured if we were able to contribute even just a little of our efforts in the past,” Li told HKFP.

PLG, founded in 2015, was vocal on legal and political issues such as the city’s human rights and judicial independence. In 2019, it published a report entitled Hong Kong Rule of Law Report 2018, making 60 suggestions to uphold the rule of law.

Another member of the group, solicitor Alan Wong, told HKFP that he learnt about the decision to disband from news reports as he was not an active member.

“The disbandment of an organisation will not affect the operations and work of the legal sector,” said Wong. “But when it comes to finding a lawyer to comment on social issues, of course there will be one less option. But I believe that there are some scholars or lawyers who are willing to give their comments on some social issues.”

Growing list of disbanded groups

Another pro-democracy group, Progressive Teachers’ Alliance, announced on Facebook on Sunday that it had decided to cease operations. Including PLG, at least eight pro-democracy groups have dissolved in the past two weeks.

Neo Democrats
Neo Democrats members campaign for the 2019 District Council election. Photo: Neo Democrats, via Facebook.

Medical group Médecins Inspirés announced its decision to disband on Facebook last Wednesday, without giving a reason. Another group, Frontline Doctors’ Union, also decided to dissolve last Tuesday after its former vice president Seamus Siu said that “no one would like to take over,” Stand News reported.

Two local political groups, the Neo Democrats and Community Sha Tin, decided to disband in June. The Neo Democrats cited the national security law and a political environment that was “much worse than before.”

The law criminalises subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts, with a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

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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.