A Hong Kong pro-democracy student group has announced its disbandment, citing no “foreseeable space” for activism. The decision came days after four of its current and former members were arrested and charged under the national security law.
Student Politicism announced it would fold last Friday, after its convenor Wong Yat Chin, spokesperson Alice Wong, former secretary general Chan Chi-sum and ex-spokesperson Jessica Chu were remanded in custody for allegedly conspiring to incite subversion.
The organisation – founded in May last year – said it could no longer “continue our mission” and decided to dismiss all members and volunteers. It paid tribute to the “precious support” from Hongkongers and said they would sell off their remaining supplies to subsidise the legal fees of the detained student leaders.
“Unfortunately, given the lack of foreseeable space for our organisation to continue our mission, we hereby announce the disbandment of Student Politicism,” the group wrote on Facebook.
“Last but not least, we want to express our sincere gratitude for the help and support from everyone on the way, and we wish all [people to be] safe and sound,” it added.
Student Politicism was among dozens of civil society groups that disbanded in recent months amid pressure from the Beijing-enacted security legislation. The student group had organised street booths to call on support for local activists, exhibition of photos from the 2019 protests, and gathered prison supplies for protesters behind bars.
Police accused the arrested student leaders of attempting to “recruit like-minded people” in prison by sending gifts such as chocolate.
They were said to have prompted hatred against the government by telling people not to use the Covid-19 tracking LeaveHomeSafe app. Police confiscated supplies such as M&Ms, destined for prisoners. The four were denied bail pending trial.
In June 2020, Beijing inserted national security legislation directly into Hong Kong’s mini-constitution – bypassing the local legislature – following a year of pro-democracy protests and unrest. It criminalised subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts, which were broadly defined to include disruption to transport and other infrastructure. The move gave police sweeping new powers, alarming democrats, civil society groups and trade partners, as such laws have been used broadly to silence and punish dissidents in China. However, the authorities say it has restored stability and peace to the city.