The University of York Hong Kong Public Affairs Society (YHK-PASS) has joined over 80 organisations globally in condemning police brutality during the riots in Hong Kong.The statement is relatively unprecedented considering the organisation typically considers itself apolitical and refused to comment on the protests as late as August, arguing that while it was “concerned” about events, its role was to“provide a platform for all students to express their opinions”.
The news comes as videos emerged of campuses in Hong Kong being stormed by police, as violence broke out around the city’s two main universities: the University of Hong Kong, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Pro-democracy student protesters used rudimentary cement, bricks, and refuse bins to construct barricades on main roads. The stand-off resulted in many students spending up to 48 hours encamped in university buildings. The statement condemns the tear gas and baton rounds used during the “siege” of university campuses, and cites countless cases of police brutality in arguing that the “institutionalisation” of police violence was unacceptable. It mentions the case of a protester who died after falling off a car park fleeing police, and another 21-year old who was, until recently, in critical condition after an operation to remove a bullet from his abdomen.
It also alleges that the suppression of protest was an affront to “academic freedom”. Following the violence on their campuses, most international exchange students have been asked to leave their studies in Hong Kong early. This represents a significant change in the university calendar because Hong Kong universities generally run terms as late as 23 December.
YHKPASS did not respond to a request for comment by Nouse