Activist Au Nok-hin has quit the Democratic Party in order to join the more “progressive” section of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp.
Best known for leading the group behind the annual July 1 march, 30-year-old Au was part of an emerging group of younger politicians in Hong Kong’s largest pro-democracy party. He has also served as a district councillor for the Southern District since 2011.
Au announced his resignation from the moderate Democratic Party on Wednesday night. He said the decision was based on what he called increased persecution against the “progressive” section of the pro-democracy camp in recent times.
The “progressives” broadly refer to pro-democracy parties or politicians who are better known for protests and bringing political issues to the fore rather than focusing on community work – such as the League of Social Democrats (LSD), People Power and Demosisto.
In July, the LSD’s “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung and Demosisto’s Nathan Law were among four legislators to be ousted from their seats. Law was jailed in August for his role in the 2014 Occupy protests, while 13 were jailed for their roles in a demonstration against developing the Northeast New Territories. Dozens of other activists are facing ongoing charges for taking part in various protests.
“The times are getting harsher – those who resist find themselves trapped,” Au wrote on Facebook.
“I truly understand what my current role should be. I am willing to use my personal experiences as a force to rebuild the progressive course.”
“In the current political climate, different camps should unite and not separate,” he added. “However… when the Chinese Communist Party intensifies its crackdown against the progressive camp, more people should come out and stop them.”
Au said that he originally joined the Democratic Party in 2009 because the pro-democracy camp was falling behind in its community and district work: “I received precious political training… I saw that people in the party put a lot of emphasis on gratitude and righteousness.”
“This gratitude and righteousness led me to stay with them for many years, even if our ideologies were not exactly the same.”
Au has been working with Lo Kin-hei, the party’s vice-chairman, who is also a district councillor serving Ap Lei Chau. Lo said they were two ends of a spectrum, but they complemented each other well.
Lo said Au’s departure was a loss to the party, as he often provided the party with new stimuli and fresh perspectives on political views: “But we have worked together for eight years and I understand his ideals – I understand the struggle he had when he made this decision, I only have respect for him, along with appreciation.”
Lo said they will continue to operate their joint district office.
Au will also step down as the convener of the Civil Human Rights Front – the group responsible for organising the annual July 1 march – as the Front completed its elections for a new term on Wednesday. Activist Sammy Ip of the group Student Fight for Democracy will become the Front’s new convener.