No July 1 rally - this year or next - as organizer rights front backs off

Finance | Wallis Wang 21 Jun 2021

The organizer of the annual July 1 protests says it will not apply for a rally this year - or next year - as it has "completed" its historical mission.

Civil Human Rights Front, which is being investigated for allegedly breaching the Societies Ordinance, said it will be impossible to get permission for a rally.

But League of Social Democrats head Raphael Wong Ho-ming said other groups may apply for permission to march, though he also expects it to be turned down by police, citing the social gathering ban.

"We will definitely not organize the march this year because of the social distance measures," Chung Chung-fai, temporary convener of the front, told Sing Tao Daily, sister publication of The Standard.

"And police have said the front is an unregistered society and we cannot apply to hold a march through legal means at all."

Founded in 2002, the front held the July 1 march every year from 2003 to 2019, Chung said. But it was banned by police last year.

"The front has not been dissolved, but it won't organize any event in the future," Chung said, admitting that most of its members have left.

"Most events held by the front in the past were marches, but now it cannot organize marches [or] anything else," he said.

Chung said the front is a platform for different groups to express their opinions. But "everything must come to an end and the front has completed its historical mission," he said.

Chung said he believes Hongkongers should continue to express their opinions and it is important to let the government know their discontent.

"Of course, everything we do now must be legal and safe and we have to maintain our strength," Chung said.

Wong said other groups are considering applying to organize the march. And if there is no march scheduled for July 1, groups can still set up street counters to urge the government to release all political prisoners, he said.

"It is not a time of peace now and we don't need to sugarcoat the situation for the authorities. We can still express our views publicly and setting up street counters is one of the options," Wong said.

Earlier, police said the front registered as a society according to the Societies Ordinance on July 18, 2006, but then canceled the registration on September 11 in the same year.

Police are accusing the front of violating the Societies Ordinance as it continues to operate as a society and are demanding it to provide information about its income and expenditures as well as rallies it has organized.

But the front said it disagrees that the group is illegal.

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