Dozens of police officers carried out a series of raids on Thursday to gather evidence against the now-disbanded umbrella group behind many of Hong Kong’s biggest protests following its failure to meet a deadline for handing over information on its activities and finances.
A force insider said the raids were mounted in response to the 19-year-old Civil Human Rights Front refusing to disclose materials, requested by police in April, detailing its funding sources, expenses and related bank accounts, or provide an explanation for not registering with the government.
Officers from the Hong Kong Island crime unit swooped on four locations on Thursday after obtaining search warrants from a court.
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The source said one of the premises, located in an industrial unit in Cheung Sha Wan, was the office of another pro-opposition group, the League of Social Democrats.
Chan Po-ying, the league’s chairwoman, accused police of seeking to spread fear with the latest raids. The force’s explanation that its search was prompted by the fact that the league had once received information from the front was “ridiculous”, she added.
“The front used to have more than 100 member groups, but why did the police only raid the league’s office?” she said. “It is a form of political intimidation which is meant to create white terror.”
“The league and the front are two different organisations, and we do not have any information concerning the front,” she added.
Another venue raided on Thursday was the former home of ex-front convenor Figo Chan Ho-wun, who was jailed for more than 20 months for taking part in unauthorised protests.
The police source said no arrests were made and the investigation was continuing.
The front announced in August it had disbanded, about four months after police began investigating the legality of its operations.
A senior police source said in April that the force, acting on complaints, had asked the front to explain why it remained active despite cancelling its registration in September 2006, two months after applying to register under the Societies Ordinance.
Under the ordinance, the force’s societies officer can advise the secretary for security to make an order banning the operation of a society or branch deemed to be a political body over its connections with a foreign political organisation or one in Taiwan.
The prohibition could be deemed necessary in the interests of national security, public safety, the protection of the rights and freedoms of others, or public order.
In addition to providing information about its membership, activities and finances by May, police also asked the front to explain its involvement in a joint petition with other groups last December requesting a United Nations agency to appeal to the Beijing and Hong Kong governments to improve their record on human rights.
Despite the front’s August dissolution, police vowed to press ahead with the investigation, while the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office agreed the outfit should not be spared from the legal consequences of its actions.
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