Hong Kong’s top security official has accused a fund set up to provide financial assistance for protesters arrested during the 2019 pro-democracy demonstrations of profiteering.

Just days after the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund announced they were set to disband, the city’s Secretary for Security Chris Tang said on Friday: “I have noticed that this organisation has announced that it will soon disband, but they also told people to donate a huge sum before they disband, do they really have to profit just before disbanding?”

Secretary for Security Chris Tang. Photo: RTHK, via video screenshot.

The Fund announced last week that they will cease operations on October 31, after it was informed by directors of its holding company, the Alliance for True Democracy Limited, that it will soon be defunct.

Set up in June 2019 during the anti-extradition bill protests, the fund provided fees for medical aid, counselling, legal advice, emergency financial relief, as well as loans for bail money to protesters.

The fund said it will announce one last fundraising target next month to cover costs during the transition period.

Tang – who is a former Hong Kong police chief – said that he was not sure if the fund has helped anyone charged under the national security law, but the authorities will look into any organisation suspected to have violated the law.

612 Humanitarian Relief Fund trustees Cardinal Joseph Zen, Margaret Ng, Hui Po-Keung and Denise Ho. Photo: Screenshot via Facebook.

The secretary refused to confirm whether the fund, which he said provided support to “those arrested during the black violence,” is currently under police investigation.

‘Mastermind’

Tang said that 143 people have been arrested under the Beijing-imposed national security law since its enactment in June last year, and 81 people have been charged. Three people have been convicted.

The national security law criminalised subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts, which were broadly defined to include disruption to transport and other infrastructure.

Jimmy Lai. File photo: StudioIncendo.

The secretary said that the case of Hong Kong activist Andy Li and paralegal Chan Tsz-wah, “exposed a mastermind endangering national security along with a foreigner,” referring to pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai and his aide Mark Simon.

Li and Chan pleaded guilty to taking part in a conspiracy to collude with foreign forces along with Lai last week.

“The case showed how the mastermind used a media [outlet] he controlled to create an image to incite people’s hate against Hong Kong and the country,” said Tang.

“I believe that, as more case details are disclosed in court, we can clearly see that what happened in 2019 is not simply some youngsters speaking up.”

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.