Pan-dem groups cut ties with July 1 organizer amid foreign claims
The city's largest teachers union - the Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union with over 96,000 members - has joined the bandwagon of political parties distancing themselves from the Civil Human Rights Front. It cited the "recent political situation," adding it will no longer participate in the front's work and meetings in future.
At least five pro-democracy political groups have decided to stop participating in the front's work, including the Neighbourhood and Worker's Service Centre, Neo Democrats, Civic Party and Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood.
Earlier this month, Singaporean newspaper Lianhe Zaobao reported that the front could be banned in Hong Kong for violating the national security law, which came into force on June 30.
It quoted sources as saying there have been claims that the front received funding from the United States National Endowment for Democracy to organize anti-fugitive bill protests. It said the SAR government is investigating whether the front accepted foreign funding - if such allegations are proved to be right, the group could be banned.
The convener of the front, Figo Chan Ho-wun, said he "respects and understands" political groups quitting the front, but said the group will not be disbanded.
"As long as there are groups staying, I, as the convener, will definitely stay with the front," he said.
Chan also denied the allegations reported by the newspaper, saying the front has always relied on donations from Hong Kong citizens and has never received any sort of funding from foreign governments or organizations, including the US agency named in the report.
He said the front was "dumbfounded" with regard to allegations over it having received American funding and violating the national security law.
Regarding reports saying the front could be disbanded by the government, Chan said: "Our take is that once this regime targets a person or condemns an organization, it always manages to find an excuse to do so."
He urged people to "recognize and acknowledge the facts" and to do their best during what he calls a "difficult time of incessant political suppression."
The front was founded in 2002 and affiliated with most pro-democracy groups in Hong Kong. It has organized a number of large-scale rallies and protests, including the July 1 marches.