After Beijing’s national security law for Hong Kong came into force, at least 58 organisations -including unions, churches, media groups, and political parties – have disbanded since 2021. The trend accelerated in the second half of 2021, with bastions of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement crumbling within months.
Decades-old and newer activist groups, as well as unions, formed in the wake of the 2014 Umbrella Movement or during the 2019 protests have folded. Many cited an inability to see a way forward in the current political climate.
Last year, Chief Executive Carrie Lam denied there was a crackdown on civil society: “We respect civic society. Hong Kong has large numbers of NGOs and think tanks and research agencies who are shouldering their civic responsibility in trying to improve Hong Kong’s situation,” she said. She later said that the issue of groups disbanding were “nothing to do” with freedom.
Hospital Authority Employees Alliance (December 2019 – June 2022)
The Hospital Authority Employees Alliance (HAEA), founded in the wake of the 2019 unrest, announced on June 26 that its members had decided to dissolve the group during an Extraordinary General Meeting held on June 23.
The group representing government hospital staff cited “pressure from all sides,” saying it had faced “political oppression” and “white terror.” Its former chairwoman Winnie Yu is among 47 pro-democracy figures who may face up to life in prison over an alleged conspiracy to commit subversion under the national security law.
The HAEA will officially fold on June 30, the second anniversary of the Beijing-imposed national security law.
FactWire (2015 – June 2022)
On June 10, 2022, Factwire became the fourth, major independent news platform to disband in under a year, after Apple Daily, Stand News and Citizen News shuttered under pressure. The crowdfunded, bilingual investigative news wire did not state clearly why it was dissolving. The multi-award winning agency only said it was time to “end [their] journey.” The final story it published touched on the finances of incoming leader John Lee’s family.
CTU Education Foundation Limited (2002 – May 2022)
The education foundation affiliated with the defunct pro-democracy labour group, the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), announced on May 12, 2022 that it would disband following a members’ vote, citing political risks.
Citizen News (2017 – January 2022)
Independent news outlet Citizen News halted operations on January 2, 2022, shortly after the authorities’ crackdown on fellow independent newsroom Stand News. A statement cited “the deteriorating media environment” and said the decision was to protect the safety of its staff.
Stand News (2014 – December 2021)
Non-profit online media outlet Stand News ceased operations and deleted all content hours after a police raid and seven arrests. Its two former chief editors were charged under the colonial-era anti-sedition law and both were denied bail by a national security judge.
Government Non-Civil Service Staff General Union (2020 – November 2021)
The union announced its dissolution in August, saying the reason for disbanding was staff shortage and the organization had rarely taken part in political events. They had organized a petition against the national security law jointly with four other unions before its enactment, according to HK01.
Amnesty International Hong Kong (1982 – 2021)
The international rights group announced it will close its Hong Kong chapter and move its regional office out of the city by the end of the year, citing safety concerns under the national security law.
The Chinese University of Hong Kong’s student union (1971 – October 2021)
The student union at one of the city’s top universities announced it would disband after 50 years in operation, citing increased difficulties following the administration’s decision to sever ties with it earlier this year.
The General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists (2019 – October 2021)
The government revoked the registration of the speech therapist union on October 13. Five of its former union members were charged of publishing seditious children’s books about sheep.
Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (1990 – September 2021)
The city’s largest pro-democracy coalition of trade unions disbanded after 31 years, citing threats against its members. The decision came amid rumours propagated by Chinese-backed media that it would be the next target of a national security probe.
Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China (1989 – September 2021)
An organisation founded to support the student-led protests in China in 1989 became a key pro-democracy group in the city, organising annual candlelight vigils to commemorate the Tiananmen Massacre of that year, demand justice for victims, and call for an end to China’s one-party rule. Members voted to disband after its refusal to comply with a national security probe led to the leadership being arrested and charged and the group’s assets frozen.
Student Politicism (May 2020 – September 2021)
The student activist group, which organised pro-democracy street booths and provided daily necessities to protesters in prison, announced it would disband after three core members aged 18 to 20 were arrested under the security law and denied bail.
Tsz Wan Shan Constructive Power (2014 – September 2021)
A local pro-democracy community group founded by residents of the Wong Tai Sin area after the 2014 Umbrella Movement announced on September 22 it would shut down.
Cheung Sha Wan Community Establishment Power (2015 – September 2021)
Another community group founded in the wake of the 2014 Umbrella Movement announced on September 22 it would disband.
China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group (2007 – September 2021)
The organisation founded by veteran democrat Albert Ho was an advocacy and support group for detained human rights lawyers in mainland China. It announced it had begun liquidation procedures after receiving a data request from national security police about its dealings with the Alliance.
Hong Kong Information Technology Workers’ Union (2019 – September 2021)
A trade union of IT workers founded during the 2019 pro-democracy protests and unrest, it cited the growing wave of emigration from the city in its decision to disband.
Wall-fare (2020 – September 2021)
The prison support group, founded by former lawmaker Shiu Ka-chun, advocated for better conditions for detainees and coordinated letter-writing campaigns to protesters and activists behind bars. The group folded after just nine months.
Hong Kong Professional Teacher’s Union (1973 – September 2021)
The city’s largest teachers’ union announced it would disband after a fortnight of pressure which saw the Education Bureau cutting all official ties with the group hours after a Chinese media attack. The pro-democracy group, which represented over 90 per cent of Hong Kong’s educators, had provided a comprehensive network of discounted healthcare, legal and travel services and shops for teachers.
Community March (2017 – September 2021)
A grassroots pro-democracy group formed by the Labour Party’s Suzanne Wu to champion labour issues announced its disbandment on September 8.
Civic Passion (2012 – September 2021)
The opposition party announced it would shut down, citing “no way forward” after its member Cheng Chung-tai was ousted from his legislative seat following a decision by an election vetting committee that he was not “patriotic” enough to serve.
Hong Kong Pastors Network (2019 – September 2021)
A group of Christian pastors who supported the 2019 pro-democracy protests cited an increasingly dangerous climate and growing political pressure, as well as the disbandment of other civil society groups, as its reason to fold.
612 Humanitarian Relief Fund (June 2019 – October 2021)
The fund was set up in the early days of the 2019 pro-democracy protests to provide financial support for medical and legal aid for injured or detained activists. It announced it would cease operations, after the separate company which held the bank account which it used to accept donations, the Alliance for True Democracy, decided to close down. A national security probe has since been launched into the fund’s operations.
Alliance for True Democracy Ltd (2013 – August 2021)
A coalition formed in 2013 of 12 pro-democracy groups including the majority of the city’s opposition parties, it was founded to fight for universal suffrage.
Financial Technology Professional Services Personnel Union (2020 – August 2021)
A group of finance technology workers also disbanded.
Civil Human Rights Front (2002 – August 2021)
As the largest coalition of pro-democracy groups, the front had organised mass peaceful rallies annually on July 1 since 2002, and was behind authorised and peaceful demonstrations during the 2019 pro-democracy protests. Its disbandment came after its convenor Figo Chan was jailed over an unauthorised assembly in October 2019.
Student Front Union (2020 – September 2021)
The student group announced it was disbanding because it could not guarantee the safety of its members in the current political climate.
Silver-haired support group (2019 – August 2021)
A group of elderly Hongkongers which galvanised thousands to march in support of young activists during the 2019 pro-democracy movement, its name translated to “Silver-haired but useful.”
Hong Kong Educators Alliance (2019 – July 2021)
Hong Kong Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Industries Employees General Union (2019 – July 2021)
The union cited increasing risks for pro-democracy groups and its limited capacity for its decision to disband.
Maritime Transport Services Industry Trade Union (2020 – July 2021)
The union similarly cited a shortage of members and increasing pressure in its decision to close down.
Democratic Alliance (2001 – July 2021)
The pro-democracy group was also one of the few groups in Hong Kong which publicly supported Taiwan.
Act Voice (2014 – July 2021)
Act Voice was a pressure group of actuarial workers formed during the 2014 Umbrella Movement.
Civil Rights Observer (2014 – July 2021)
Formed in the wake of the 2014 Umbrella Movement, the group monitored authorities’ human rights record.
Umbrella Parents (2014 – July 2021)
The group of older people supporting young activists since the 2014 Umbrella Movement announced its disbandment, saying that “the world had changed.”
HK Psychologists Concern (2015 – July 2021)
The group had offered free, anonymous counselling services to those affected by the 2019 pro-democracy protests and unrest.
Financier Conscience (2015 – July 2021)
A group of finance workers formed in the wake of the Umbrella Movement also disbanded.
Hong Kong Shield (2014 – July 2021)
A group of workers from the cultural sector, it was first founded during the 2014 Umbrella Movement and spoke out against violence towards protesters.
Progressive Teachers’ Alliance (2014 – July 2021)
A teachers’ concern group that grew out of the 2014 Umbrella Movement, the group spoke out against textbook censorship and in support of student welfare.
Progressive Lawyers’ Group (2015 – July 2021)
The group was made of Hong Kong lawyers dedicated to promoting core values of rule of law, judicial independence, democracy, human rights, freedom, and justice.
Next Media Trade Union (2009 – July 2021)
The union announced it would disband after its flagship newspaper, the pro-democracy Apple Daily, was forced to cease operations after two police raids in the space of ten months. The paper’s founder and seven executives and writers were arrested and charged under the national security law with “conspiracy to collude with foreign forces.”
Rice Post (2015 – July 2021)
Ignite our community (2019 – June 2021)
The pro-democracy alliance for district councils in the North Point and Fortress Hill neighbourhoods disbanded, citing the growing number of councillor resignations.
g0v.hk (2016 – June 2021)
The online poll platform provided statistics and analysis on various community issues.
Médecins Inspirés (2015 – June 2021)
The thinktank formed by doctors, it advocated for electoral reform.
Frontline Doctors’ Union (2002 – June 2021)
A pressure group of front line doctors at public hospitals, it disbanded after almost 20 years in operation.
NeoDemocrats (2010 – June 2021)
The opposition party, which began as an offshoot of the Democratic Party, cited the national security law in its decision to disband.
Ekklesia Hong Kong (2014 – June 2021)
The church’s closing announcement warned that shifting red lines in Hong Kong may turn into a “red net.”
Community Sha Tin (2017 – June 2021)
A local community group formed by pro-democracy Sha Tin District Councillors disbanded in June.
Apple Daily (1995 – June 2021)
The city’s largest pro-democracy newspaper was forced to cease operations after its founder and seven top executives and writers were arrested under the national security law for allegedly conspiring to collude with foreign forces. Its last headline, announcing its closure, read “Hongkongers bid a painful farewell in the rain.”
Good Neighbour North District Church (2014 – May 2021)
The church, founded during the 2014 Umbrella Movement, cease operations in May.
Team Eddie Chu Hoi-dick of New Territories West (2016 – May 2021)
The democrat and former lawmaker announced from behind bars that he was stepping down from politics. Chu faces six criminal charges, including one under the national security law
18 District Councils Liaison (2020 – May 2021)
The group cited political uncertainty for its decision to disband.
Post 852 (2013 – May 2021)
The independent media outlet founded by writer Yau Ching-yuen posted a message of hope as it announced its closure: “In the coming days, dawn will come! We will continue what we started!”
Hong Kong Civil Assembly Team (2019 – March 2021)
Power for Democracy (2002 – Feb 2021)
Union for New Civil Servants (2019 – Jan 6, 2021)
The union announced it would disband to protect the personal information of all its members. The announcement came on the same day that all civil servants were required to sign an oath of allegiance to the government.
KICKSTART Wan Chai (2019 – January 2021)
The pro-democracy political group based in the Wan Chai district disbanded on the same day that 53 opposition political figures were arrested on suspicion of “conspiracy to incite subversion” under the security law.
Hong Kong Christian Patriotic Democratic Movement (1989 – January 2021)
The group had commemorated the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre every June 4 for over three decades.