Pro-Hong Kong independence party officially banned in unprecedented move

Andy Chan, founder of the Hong Kong National Party, which has been made illegal under the Societies Ordinance, the first time the colonial-era law has ever been used to ban a political party.

Hong Kong (CNN)The Hong Kong government has officially banned a pro-independence party on the grounds of national security, an unprecedented move that has sparked new concerns about restrictions on political freedoms in the semi-autonomous Chinese city.

It is now illegal to be a member of Hong Kong National Party, act on its behalf, or raise funds for it. Offenders could face up to three years in prison and fines of up to $12,000, according to a notice posted by authorities Monday citing legislation under the Societies Ordinance.
The decision follows a call by the Hong Kong police in July to outlaw the party under the colonial-era ordinance for posing an "imminent threat to national security."
"The Hong Kong National Party has a very clear agenda to achieve its goal of Hong Kong being made an independent republic. Over the two years it has planned and executed actions to implement the plan," Security Secretary John Lee said Monday, adding that the party has spread hatred against Chinese immigrants and advocated an "armed revolution" to achieve Hong Kong independence.
    Andy Chan, convenor of the Hong Kong National Party, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He has always maintained his organization is non-violent.
    Last month, Chan gave a hugely scrutinized speech at the Foreign Correspondents Club, which eventually went ahead despite attempts by the government and other figures to pressure the club to drop it, and protests by pro-Beijing groups.
    "We were once colonized by the Brits, and now we are colonized by the Chinese, where is our right to determine our own future?" said Chan, who also warned that Hong Kong could follow the path of Tibet and Xinjiang, where China has recently been accused of imprisoning hundreds of thousands of Uyghur Muslims.
    The Societies Ordinance used to outlaw Chan's party has previously been criticized for being overly restrictive. In 1992 the last colonial gover