Three core members of US-based pro-democracy lobbying group Hong Kong Democracy Council have announced their resignations from the organisation.

Samuel chu, victoria hui, annie boyajian
Hong Kong Democracy Council activists Samuel Chu, Victoria Hui and Annie Boyajian. Photo: Samuel Chu via Facebook.

In statements posted to social media on Tuesday, activists Samuel Chu and Victoria Hui announced that they and board member Annie Boyajian will step down from HKDC’s leadership with immediate effect. Their profiles were not on the group’s website at the time of writing.

Washington DC based HKDC was founded in September 2019 as a grassroots non-profit in response to the Hong Kong government’s crackdown during the 2019 protests and unrest. The group advocates for democracy in the city, and lobbied for the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, which mandate penalties against Hong Kong and China officials.

The resignations came days after prosecutors revealed during a national security court case that the defendant, activist Andy Li, had passed a list of 144 names to Chu as recommended targets for US sanctions. The prosecutors argued this information established proof of an alleged conspiracy to collude with foreign forces.

‘Be Water. Onward.’

Hui, a former HKDC board member, said she is resigning to avoid any conflict of interest in her new role as a fellow with the US Council on Foreign Relations think tank, and the US Congressional Executive Commission on China (CECC).

She said her efforts this summer to recruit new figures for HKDC’s leadership were “intractable,” and that “hostility in our board exchanges in the past few days became unbearable.”

As a result, Boyajian and Chu, HKDC’s managing director, decided to resign at the same time, although they did not give the reasons for their resignations.

Chu said in a tweet: “We remain deeply inspired by and committed to the movement in Hong Kong and will continue to assist in any US effort in support of Hong Kong as needed. Be water. Onward.”

US Capitol Building flag
The Capitol Building in Washington DC. Photo: Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for Public Affairs, via Flickr.

Hui said HKDC board president Anna Yeung-Cheung will remain in her position until the coming autumn.

In a statement, Yeung-Cheung said the organisation will see “formal restructuring” of its leadership. “On a personal note, I wish to express my deepest gratitude to Samuel’s service,” adding that Chu played an “instrumental” role in HKDC’s founding.

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Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.