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Hong Kong bans pro-independence party, concerning human rights advocates

The Hong Kong National Party, founded by Andy Chan (pictured), has been banned in Hong Kong because of its pro-independence platform. (PHILIP FONG/AFP/Getty Images)

Hong Kong's government issued an order on Monday for dismantling a pro-independence political party, raising eyebrows from human rights advocates and British leaders.

What are the details?

The Hong Kong government gazette published the notice from Secretary of Security John Lee, which ordered "that the operation or continued operation of the Hong Kong National Party in Hong Kong be prohibited."

During a briefing Monday, Lee said, "The Hong Kong National Party has a very clear agenda to achieve its goal of Hong Kong being made an independent republic."

"I cannot ignore the fact that the Hong Kong National Party has repeatedly advocated that it will use all methods, including the use of force, and also encouraging its supporters to use force," he added.

Lee accused the party of exhibiting "hatred and discrimination" against Chinese nationals visiting Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997. This is the first time a political party has been banned since the U.K. handed the country back with an agreement that Hong Kong would be allowed to maintain its freedoms.

The ban does not come as a shock, however: Two years ago, the Hong Kong National Party's leader Chan Ho-tin — also known as Andy Chan — was prohibited from running for office by the government, disqualifying him for not publicly declaring Hong Kong as an "inalienable part" of China.

While HKNP is seen as a fringe group with few followers and no elected officials, critics are calling foul of Hong Kong's ban of the party. Senior researcher for Human Rights Watch Maya Wang told the New York Times, "The banning of the Hong Kong National Party is a milestone in the Beijing and Hong Kong governments' assault on Hong Kong's freedoms.

"The ban violates a range of human rights guaranteed to Hong Kong people, including the rights to freedom of association and assembly," she added.

What do the British think?

Responding to the ban, Britain's foreign ministry issued a statement on Monday saying, "We are concerned by the decision. The U.K. does not support Hong Kong independence, but Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy and its rights and freedoms are central to its way of life, and it is important they are fully respected."

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