Sat, 23 Sep 2023

Hong Kong, August 29 (ANI): A group formed to uphold the status of the Cantonese language in Hong Kong has disbanded after its leader was questioned by police personnel claiming it was in violation of a national security law, Radio Free Asia reported.

Andrew Chan, founder and convenor of Societas Linguistica Hongkongensis, said he was shutting down the group with immediate effect after national security police came to his former home while he was away but his family members still lived and searched the property without a warrant.

Andrew Chan said officers claimed that one of the entries to the society's Cantonese-language essay competition had breached a national security law that criminalizes criticism of the government and words or actions deemed to incite "independence" for the city, according to Radio Free Asia report. He said that the essay was removed from the group's website on the same day.

In a post on Facebook, Chan said, "I have decided, with the guidance of legal counsel, to cease all operations of the Societas Linguistica Hongkongensis, effective immediately, in order to ensure the safety of my family and former members." Chan further said, "Dissolution procedures are also initiated," Radio Free Asia reported.

Andrew Chan wrote, "In light of the circumstances mentioned above and to avoid any adverse impact on my family members and former participants of the [Society], I have taken the difficult decision to halt all operations of the Societas Linguistica Hongkongensis." He further stated, "Regrettably, I have had to halt my efforts to safeguard Cantonese in Hong Kong." Chan said that his group for 10 years had campaigned to protect the linguistic rights of people of Hong Kong and focused specifically on Cantonese and traditional Chinese characters, Radio Free Asia reported.

Chan said that he had received death threats and was forced to leave his job in 2018 after he made remarks against mandatory Mandarin-language examination for students at the Hong Kong Baptist University. He stated that his group was reported to the authorities as a "radical, anti-China" organization.

Cantonese is considered a conduit for opposition to rule from Beijing and any attempt to impose the city's unique identity is considered by the authorities as "secession," punishable by jail terms under a national security law put in the city by the ruling Chinese Communist Party in 2020. In October 2022, Chinese social media platform Douyin pulled the plug on a live-stream host broadcasting in Cantonese. (ANI).

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