Civic Party: A key pro-democracy organisation in Hong Kong has voted to disband.
The Civic Party, one of Hong Kong’s most powerful pro-democracy organizations, has voted to disband in response to China’s assault on dissent.
It was founded in 2006 and was previously the city’s second-largest opposition party in the Legislative Council.
However, numerous of its senior members have been incarcerated or have escaped into exile in recent years.
According to one of its founders, the party’s demise was “a symbol of the end of Hong Kong’s nativistic democracy movement.”
Albert Lai told the AFP news agency that “the failure does not mean the movement was meaningless.”
After failing to organize a new executive committee, the party announced its intention to disband in December.
Chairman Alan Leong told the Hong Kong Free Press at the time that he was not surprised no one wanted to lead the party because there had been no recommendations about how to keep it going at an internal member meeting in September.
Mr Leong said on Saturday that all members had decided to dissolve the party, with one person abstaining.
“The Civic Party will vanish from the Earth after the final procedure,” he warned.
Mr Leong congratulated “all like-minded people” who had joined the party on its “long walk to democracy” in a statement, saying that while it had “not accomplished what we set out to do, there is a time for everything.”
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The Civic Party was recognized for its representation of professionals such as lawyers and accountants, and it was considered as a more moderate option to the bigger Democratic Party, which is still in power.
Several members have been charged with participating in pro-democracy rallies against Beijing’s leadership, which began in 2019.
Following the passage of the contentious national security law, four of its members were removed from the Legislative Council in 2020, accusing them of being “unpatriotic.”
In response, other opposition legislators resigned in large numbers.
Some members also participated in unofficial political elections and were charged with subversive plot. In February, they went on trial alongside more than 40 others.
Following a change in Hong Kong’s voting system that allowed only “patriots” to enter public office, the party lost dozens of district council seats.
Hong Kong is a Chinese Special Administrative Region. Residents are meant to enjoy some freedoms not available on the mainland under the “one country, two systems” principle, and Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, provides the right to public assembly.
However, critics claim that these rights have been weakened since 2020, when Beijing enacted a national security law in response to significant pro-democracy rallies.
The rule, according to Beijing, was necessary to provide stability to the city, but others claim it was designed to crush dissent and diminish Hong Kong’s autonomy.