Hong Kong’s top police officer has refused to rule out imposing a ban on the city’s largest pro-democracy civil rights group after it refused to cooperate with an investigation into its affairs.
Police Commissioner Chris Tang’s comments came after the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) declined to comply with a police request to hand over information on its funding and activities.
The civil rights coalition is under investigation for potential violation of the Societies’ Ordinance, under which it is not registered.
He confirmed that a letter from the group had been received informing the force of its decision not to hand over the requested information, Tang told RTHK on Tuesday.
The police chief added that the force will consider its next steps with the Department of Justice and did not rule out further law enforcement measures.
The coalition has organised the city’s major pro-democracy rallies since 2006, including annual marches on July 1. It also organised 16 marches during the 2019 anti-extradition protests, some which saw tens of thousands demonstrate peacefully for more democratic processes in the city.
When it announced last week that it would not be cooperating with the police probe, the group questioned why the force had authorised its marches since 2006 if it had any suspicions about its operations.
“If [CHRF] was an illegal society, then why would the police and various government departments co-operate with it all along?” a letter read.
After the July 1 march in 2013, the incumbent chief executive Leung Chun-ying had referred to “friends from the CHRF” in a speech thanking everyone who had participated and made the march possible “for their hard work.”
— 眾新聞 Citizen News (@hkcnews_com) April 28, 2021
CHRF had applied to be registered under the Societies’ Ordinance but withdrew its application in September 2006.
Two representatives for the front are currently remanded in custody on national security charges in relation to an unofficial democrats‘ primary poll last July. Its remaining spokesperson, Figo Chan, is facing multiple charges relating to organising and participating in unauthorised assemblies over the past two years.