SWHK Statement on the Siege on Hong Kong Universities
Sunday, November 17, 2019 2:23 AM
On November 11, just four days after a Hong Kong University of Science and Technology student died from fleeing a police raid, riot police officers laid siege on university campuses across Hong Kong, including City University, Polytechnic University, University of Hong Kong and Chinese University of Hong Kong (hereafter CUHK).
On November 12, riot police officers trespassed into Chinese University of Hong Kong and began to violently arrest, detain, and use non-lethal weapons against students for a prolonged period of time. Even after the Vice-Chancellor of CUHK and other faculties negotiated with the police to cease their violent dispersal efforts, frontline police officers continued again and again to ignore their so-called attempts at a truce, relentlessly firing tear gas, rubber bullets, lead-filled bullets into the crowd. A water cannon vehicle was also deployed and shot chemical-laced liquid immediately after the announcement of a truce; this cycle was repeated numerous times. Over 1000 tear gas canisters have been fired in two short days.
The university is a space of academic freedom. Students have the right to freedom of expression and assembly.
A university is a place of safety; for many students, it is their home. Students should not have to wear bulletproof vests in order to speak to their Vice-Chancellor, nor tear gas masks in order to go to class.
Tonight, we have seen what the police are willing to do in order to silence the voices of citizens. We have seen how ruthless they can be in refusing to allow injured students to leave and seek medical help. We have seen the futility of attempting meaningful dialogue with a paramilitary force, who can at any time revoke the terms of any agreement and have the power to enforce martial law in their own terms.
The deliberate actions of the police in provoking and escalating conflict demonstrates a fundamental lack of respect for human dignity and life, much less adherence to any reasonable standard of human rights.
We strongly condemn the actions of the police, especially the complete violation of the multiple ceasefire agreements struck between the senior management of the University and police. We call on the Hong Kong Government and its Police Force to meet students’ demands: to prohibit police from entering university campuses; to secure the unconditional release of arrested students; to ensure that there are no more raids on any university campuses.
Furthermore, we call for the immediate disbanding of the Hong Kong Police Force. There is no other way to secure the safety of Hongkongers, than for Hong Kong to be ruled by its citizens.
We call on the global community to keep their eyes on Hong Kong; to act, before it is too late. World governments must enact immediate sanctions upon those perpetrators who acted brutally against their citizens; they must also make a firm and unequivocal statement of support for citizens’ fight for justice, democracy, and autonomy.