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Hong Kong Alliance's assets frozen

Status: 
Organisation ordered to disband
About the situation

On 26 October 2021, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam ordered that the Hong Kong Alliance be removed from the Companies Register on the basis that "the operation of the Alliance which seeks to end the Chinese Communist Party's leadership amounts to seeking to overthrow" the political system of the People's Republic of China and subverting state power. The Alliance's five operational goals were: freeing pro-democracy activists; rehabilitating the 1989 pro-democracy movement; holding perpetrators accountable for the 1989 Tiananmen massacre; ending one-party dictatorship; and building a democratic China.

On 30 September and 11 October 2021, the West Kowloon Magistrates' Court denied bail to woman human rights defender Chow Hang-tung for the third and fourth times, respectively. The judge said on both occasions that he did not see any "key changes" in Chow Hang-tung's situation to warrant provision of bail. Her next bail review is scheduled for 21 October 2021, which also coincides with the pre-trial review for the case in which Chow Hang-tung and four other former leaders of the Hong Kong Alliance are being prosecuted for failure to provide information to the police under the national security law.

On 24 September 2021, vice chairperson of the Hong Kong Alliance Chow Hang-tung appeared before the West Kowloon Magistrates Court for her second bail review hearing. The judge denied her bail on the same basis as the last review, that he has "insufficient ground for believing she would not continue to commit acts endangering national security." The woman human rights defender's next bail review is scheduled for 30 September 2021 at the same court.

On 25 September 2021, at an extraordinary General Meeting, the Hong Kong Alliance's member organisations voted 41-4 to dissolve the Alliance.

On 15 September 2021, Chow Hang-tung appeared before the West Kowloon Magistrates Court for her first bail review hearing since she was charged with and denied bail a week ago over the charges of "inciting subversion of State power" and "failing to provide information" to the police under Hong Kong's national security law. The judge denied bail to the woman human rights defender for both charges on the basis that he has "insufficient ground for believing she would not continue to commit acts endangering national security." Her next bail review is scheduled for 24 September 2021.

On 9 September 2021, the police informed the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China (the Alliance) that the Department of Justice has decided to charge its chairperson Lee Cheuk-yan, vice-chair Albert Ho Chun-yan, vice-chair Chow Hang-tung, as well as the Alliance as whole, with "inciting subversion of State power" under articles 22 and 23 of the Hong Kong national security law. Chow Hang-tung and four of the Alliance's Standing Committee members are also charged with "failing to comply with notice to provide information" as requested by the National Security Department of the Hong Kong Police Force.

On the morning of 8 September 2021, police arrested Hong Kong woman human rights defender and lawyer Chow Hang-tung and three other members of the Standing Committee of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China (the Hong Kong Alliance), one day after they refused to comply with a police order that accuses them of being a “foreign agent” and demands a substantial amount of information about its staff, funding sources, and interaction with Hong Kong and foreign organisations in the last seven years. This is the woman human rights defender’s third arrest since the beginning of June 2021.

About the HRD

Chow Hang-tung (鄒幸彤) is a barrister and woman human rights defender in Hong Kong. She has advocated for the protection and promotion of labour rights, as well as for the rights of persecuted human rights defenders in mainland China. She is one of the current vice-chairs of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China (the Hong Kong Alliance), a grassroots advocacy group established in 1989 in Hong Kong to campaign for the release of Chinese political prisoners, democratic reforms in China, and accountability for the extrajudicial killings and other violations by the Chinese authorities during the lethal crackdown on pro-democracy protests in June 1989. As a barrister in Hong Kong, she has also provided legal assistance to peaceful activists and protesters targeted by police and judicial actions for their involvement in pro-democracy activities.

26 October 2021
Hong Kong Alliance de-registered

On 26 October 2021, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam ordered that the Hong Kong Alliance be removed from the Companies Register on the basis that "the operation of the Alliance which seeks to end the Chinese Communist Party's leadership amounts to seeking to overthrow" the political system of the People's Republic of China and subverting state power. The Alliance's five operational goals were: freeing pro-democracy activists; rehabilitating the 1989 pro-democracy movement; holding perpetrators accountable for the 1989 Tiananmen massacre; ending one-party dictatorship; and building a democratic China.

On 24 September 2021, members of the Alliance had already voted to dissolve the organisation and the liquidation process has been on-going. A former leader of the Alliance who is in charge of liquidation said the Chief Executive's order is difficult to understand, regrettable, and unnecessary, stating further that the Alliance disagrees with and does not accept the government's conclusion that the Alliance's goals and its operations endangered national security, public safety and public order.

11 October 2021
Chow Hang-tung denied bail again, Hong Kong Alliance's assets frozen

On 30 September and 11 October 2021, the West Kowloon Magistrates' Court denied bail to woman human rights defender Chow Hang-tung for the third and fourth times, respectively. The judge said on both occasions that he did not see any "key changes" in Chow Hang-tung's situation to warrant provision of bail. Her next bail review is scheduled for 21 October 2021, which also coincides with the pre-trial review for the case in which Chow Hang-tung and four other former leaders of the Hong Kong Alliance are being prosecuted for failure to provide information to the police under the national security law.

Earlier on 29 September 2021, the National Security Department of the Hong Kong Police Force sent a notice to Chow Hang-tung and other former leaders of the Hong Kong Alliance and informed them that its property in the Mong Kok district and multiple bank accounts held in three banks in Hong Kong have been frozen, under the powers granted by Section 3(1) of the Implementing Rules of Article 43 of Hong Kong's national security law. According to the notice, the asset freeze will last until 28 September 2023.

27 September 2021
Chow Hang-tung denied bail, Hong Kong Alliance to disband

On 24 September 2021, vice chairperson of the Hong Kong Alliance Chow Hang-tung appeared before the West Kowloon Magistrates Court for her second bail review hearing. The judge denied her bail on the same basis as the last review, that he has "insufficient ground for believing she would not continue to commit acts endangering national security." The woman human rights defender's next bail review is scheduled for 30 September 2021 at the same court.

On 25 September 2021, at an extraordinary General Meeting, the Hong Kong Alliance's member organisations voted 41-4 to dissolve the Alliance.

22 September 2021
Chow Hang-tung denied bail, police order removal of online content

On 15 September 2021, Chow Hang-tung appeared before the West Kowloon Magistrates Court for her first bail review hearing since she was charged with and denied bail a week ago over the charges of "inciting subversion of State power" and "failing to provide information" to the police under Hong Kong's national security law. The judge denied bail to the woman human rights defender for both charges on the basis that he has "insufficient ground for believing she would not continue to commit acts endangering national security." Her next bail review is scheduled for 24 September 2021.

On 16 September 2021, the Hong Kong Alliance, of which Chow Hang-tung is a vice chairperson, announced that the Hong Kong police had sent a letter to the Alliance, its seven executive committee members and its company secretary on 10 September 2021. The letter invokes the powers under article 7(2) of the Implementing Rules of Article 43 of the national security law and requires the Alliance to remove designated content on online platforms operated by the Alliance within seven days. The Alliance announced it would remove its official website, its Facebook, and "messages on other designated electronic platforms". By 17 September 2021, the Alliance's website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts were no longer accessible.

2 July 2021
Woman human rights defender Chow Hang-tung re-arrested ahead of political anniversaries and denied bail

On 30 June 2021, Hong Kong woman human rights defender and lawyer Chow Hang-tung was re-arrested after the police revoked her bail, under which she was released from an earlier arrest on 4 June 2021. On 2 July 2021, the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court denied her bail. The woman human rights defender’s arrest came on the eve of the 24th anniversary of Hong Kong’s transfer to Chinese rule and the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China.

Download the urgent appeal.

Chow Hang-tung (鄒幸彤) is a barrister and woman human rights defender in Hong Kong. She has advocated for the protection and promotion of labour rights, as well as for the rights of persecuted human rights defenders in mainland China. She is one of the current vice-chairs of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China (the Hong Kong Alliance), a grassroots advocacy group established in 1989 in Hong Kong to campaign for the release of Chinese political prisoners, democratic reforms in China, and accountability for the extrajudicial killings and other violations by the Chinese authorities during the lethal crackdown on pro-democracy protests in June 1989. As a barrister in Hong Kong, she has also provided legal assistance to peaceful activists and protesters targeted by police and judicial actions for their involvement in pro-democracy activities.

Chow Hang-tung is now facing the charge of “inciting others to knowingly participate in unauthorised assemblies” in relations to events on both 4 June and 1 July 2021. The woman human rights defender is being remanded in custody until the next court hearing, which is scheduled to take place on 30 July 2021. The court will review her bail on 9 July 2021.

The woman human rights defender and over two dozens activists, including those affiliated with the Hong Kong Alliance, have already been facing prosecution for participating in the peaceful candlelight vigil on 4 June 2020 marking the 1989 massacre of civilians and protesters in Beijing. Many of these activists are also being prosecuted, with some already convicted, in relation to their peaceful role in other pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in 2019 and 2020.

In a public post on Facebook earlier in the day on 30 June 2021, Chow Hang-tung suggested she was being surveilled and followed. Later that evening, police took the woman human rights defender into custody near her law office with the charge of “inciting others to participate in unauthorised assembly”. She was initially detained at the New Territories South Regional Police Headquarters and was later transferred to the Tsuen Wan Police Station. Chow Hang-tung was able to meet her lawyers on the morning of 1 July 2021.

On 28 June 2021, the Hong Kong police announced its decision to ban, for the second consecutive year, a planned pro-democracy assembly due to be held on 1 July, citing COVID-19-related restrictions on public gatherings. Chow Hang-tung provided legal assistance to the organisers to appeal the ban. On 29 June 2021, the body responsible for reviewing police objections to public gatherings upheld the ban.

In the early morning of 4 June 2021, police arrested Chow Hang-tung as she left her office and accused her of “publicising and promoting unauthorised assembly”. This was in connection to the banned candlelight vigil which the Hong Kong Alliance had hoped to organise later that evening in Victoria Park, which was surrounded by a heavy police presence. She was released on bail after around 33 hours in detention. In the weeks following her release, Chinese government-owned media outlets in Hong Kong published articles attacking Chow Hang-tung for her legal aid work and advocacy.

Since the People’s Republic of China resumed control of Hong Kong on 1 July 1997, pro-democracy protests have been an annual tradition to mark the anniversary in the city. The Hong Kong Alliance organised many peaceful protests on 1 July since 1997. Since 1989, the Hong Kong Alliance also organised the annual candlelight vigil on 4 June to mark the 1989 massacre of civilians and pro-democracy protesters in China, until the Hong Kong police banned it in 2020 and 2021.

Chow Hang-tung’s case is the latest indicator of a rapidly shrinking civic space and expanding government campaign of politically motivated and rights-abusing arrests and prosecution of human rights defenders and pro-democracy figures in Hong Kong. This trend has accelerated since the unilateral impositon of a draconian “national security law” a year ago. According to human rights monitors, as of 9 June 2021, at least 10,340 individuals have been arrested, 2,676 prosecuted, and 1,504 are on trial for protest-related offences. According to Hong Kong police figures compiled by reporters, at least 113 individuals have been arrested for alleged violations of Hong Kong’s national security law, and 61 of them have been formally charged, as of 23 June 2021.

Front Line Defenders believes Chow Hang-tung’s arrest is a reprisal for her peaceful and legitimate work of promoting and defending human rights in both Hong Kong and mainland China, as well as exercising of her freedoms of expression and assembly. It is further deeply concerned by what appears to be a growing pattern of denial of bail to activists and human rights defenders who are facing charges for peaceful expression or actions protected by international human rights law.