Hong Kong pro-democracy group downsizes amid crackdown

Hong Kong: One of Hong Kong's most established pro-democracy civic organizations said Saturday it is letting go its paid staff and halving the size of its steering committee amid Beijing's crackdown on opposition activity in the semi-autonomous Chinese city.

The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China is best known for organising an annual rally and candlelight vigil remembering those killed in the bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

The group said in a statement that seven of its 14 remaining steering committee members had decided to step down in the face of growing political and legal risks.

Of the seven members remaining, three are currently in jail facing national security charges chairman Lee Cheuk-yan as well as vice chairmen Albert Ho Chun-yan and Chow Hang-tung. Letting go of staff was to ensure their safety" and would take effect at the end of the month, the statement said.

While the 32-year-old group said the changes would affect its operations, it vowed that regardless of whatever difficulties or challenges we face, the alliance will continue to grit our teeth and move onwards one step at a time." Following months of anti-government protests in 2019, Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong last year.

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