Hong Kong [China], January 10 (ANI): In another instance of curbing dissent in Hong Kong, police here have invoked the draconian national security law to block a local website dedicated to publishing first-hand accounts of the anti-government protests in 2019 and personal details of officials and pro-Beijing figures.
Sources said the force had started asking internet service providers (ISPs) to halt access to the HKChronicles website citing Article 43 of the law and its implementation rules, reported South China Morning Post (SCMP).
Officers can order ISPs to block access to electronic information deemed likely to constitute a crime endangering national security, and the commissioner of police can authorise officers to do so upon the approval of the secretary of security.
“The service providers could bear legal liability if they fail to comply,” a source said.
The officers and the commissioner of police are part of the Committee for Safeguarding National Security chaired by Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
According to SCMP, the website saved huge amounts of information, articles, photos and videos related to the social unrest, which erupted in June 2019 over a now-withdrawn extradition bill and later morphed into a wider anti-government movement.
The database of the website covers extensive first-hand accounts of alleged police brutality against demonstrators, personal details of officers and pro-Beijing figures, as well as information on “yellow ribbon” protester-friendly businesses and “blue ribbon” ones that support the police.
The website’s chief editor Naomi Chan said HKChronicles began receiving reports from Hong Kong-based users that they could no longer access the site since Wednesday evening, and that the number of visitors from the city had fallen drastically, reported SCMP.
“After discussing and investigating with our supporters, we found that some ISPs in Hong Kong have deliberately dropped any connection to our servers, so that the user could not receive replies from our servers, resulting in an inability to access our content,” she said in a statement.
This comes after a number of former pro-democracy lawmakers have been arrested in the month of October over protests after the national security law was imposed on the city by Beijing.
The law criminalizes secession, subversion, and collusion with foreign forces and carries with it strict prison terms. It came into effect from July 1.
On June 9 last year, more than one million people held demonstrations against the government’s attempt to legalise extradition from Hong Kong to mainland China. In September that year, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the withdrawal of the extradition bill.