The government in Hong Kong is exercising a never-before-used law in an attempt to ban a pro-independence group in China, according to reports by The New York Times Tuesday.
Police served Chan Ho-tin, head of the Hong Kong National Party (HKNP), Tuesday with documents that cited the Societies Ordinance to ban the small group of members in the interest of national security, public safety, and public order. Historically, the law has only been used to stop organized crime, and this would be the first instance that it is being used to silence a political group.
“In Hong Kong we have freedom of association, but that right is not without restriction,” John Lee, the Hong Kong security secretary, said to The New York Times on Tuesday, giving Chan 21 days to respond to the court documents.
HKNP, which has been around for two years and only has a few dozen members, has been rallying for the city to claim independence from China, but President Xi Jinping has been cracking down on separatist movements of this nature. The ban would make it illegal for members of the party to campaign or raise money for its movement, and those found guilty of doing so could face up to three years in prison and up to $12,000 in fines, according to CNN. (RELATED: Google To Invest In China’s Gaming Platform In Apparent Attempt To Penetrate The Protected Market)
HKNP responded to the situation in a Facebook post on Tuesday saying the move came from an “increasingly insecure government, who even now hides behind the veneer of “law and order” to pelt pebbles at the Hong Kong people and her independent movement.”
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