Police halt Social Democratic League’s hiking trip in Stanley, alleging violation of National Security Law

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3rd December 2023 – (Hong Kong) Members of The League of Social Democrats (LSD) and over 20 individuals found themselves at odds with the authorities during an outing in Stanley. The Hong Kong police intercepted the group on the grounds of suspected violations of the National Security Law. After a disruptive two-hour delay, the group was eventually allowed to leave. However, due to the diminishing daylight, their plans for a hiking activity were thwarted. The LSD has strongly condemned what they perceive as unjust suppression, criticising the authorities for impeding their political and social activities and questioning the erosion of social freedoms in Hong Kong.

According to a statement posted on Facebook by the League of Social Democrats, the group, accompanied by around 20 individuals, had planned to engage in a hiking excursion to the popular Rhino Rock in Stanley, starting from the Stanley Battery. However, their plans were abruptly interrupted when approximately 20 police officers, both in uniform and plainclothes, intercepted them at the starting point. The police claimed that the group was suspected of violating the National Security Law. Each participant was subjected to close monitoring by the police, who conducted body searches and inspected personal belongings. The disruptive encounter lasted for two hours. Ultimately, the police failed to discover any evidence supporting the alleged threats to national security. However, the police cited the repair work being carried out on the path leading from Stanley Battery to Rhino Rock as a reason to halt the hiking activity. Despite this, the LSD stated that they witnessed other hikers descending along the trail while they were being detained. As darkness began to fall and they were granted permission to leave, the group decided to disperse and abandon their hiking plans.

The League of Social Democrats strongly condemned what they perceived as unjust suppression by the authorities. They highlighted that in a span of two months, their street activities had been met with 23 summonses. They criticised the obstruction faced by political organisations in carrying out their regular social and political engagements. They also pointed out that other democratic parties, such as the Democratic Party, had experienced multiple cancellations of celebratory events due to uncontrollable factors. These incidents have led the LSD to question the state of social freedoms in Hong Kong, posing the rhetorical question of how progress and prosperity can be achieved when even the freedom to socialise is being infringed upon.

Established in 2006 by left-leaning activists, the LSD opposes the moderate approach of its allies, the Democratic Party and Civic Party. It advocates for more aggressive tactics to achieve democracy. It first participated in the 2008 Legislative Council election and won three seats, emerging as a new force.

In 2010, the LSD launched the “Five Constituencies Referendum” campaign to push for universal suffrage by 2012. It faced internal conflicts and factional struggles, leading to the formation of the People Power Party. The LSD was left with only one legislator, Leung Kwok-hung.

The party experienced a decline in the 2012 Legislative Council election but maintained a cooperative relationship with the People Power party. In the 2016 Legislative Council election, the two parties formed an electoral coalition and won two seats. Leung Kwok-hung was subsequently disqualified in 2017, leaving the LSD without elected representation.

During the 2019 pro-democracy protests, LSD member Jimmy Sham won a seat in the District Council election. The party’s chairman, Chan Po-ying, replaced Raphael Wong in 2021. Leung Kwok-hung and Jimmy Sham were arrested under the national security law, and the party decided to boycott the 2021 legislative election.