Chinese university blocks ‘democracy wall’ as student union dissolves – Radio Free Asia
Leaders of student unions at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) said they were dissolving the union, the latest in a series of civil society organizations to disappear amid a nationwide crackdown of the city against dissent under the National Security Act.
“For more than half a century, the Student Union of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUSU) has gone through thick and thin, always alongside the students and professors of our university,” the union said in a statement. 7 press release on his Facebook page.
He said CUSU had always been an independent student organization whose representatives were elected through a democratic process.
“It is a matter of deep regret that CUSU is now history,” he said, adding that the decision was made at a meeting on September 10, 2021 to discuss the matter.
The statement said the decision was triggered by actions by the university, which severed ties with the union on February 26, banning it from using university facilities or staff and accusing it of failing to have clarified “potentially illegal statements and false allegations”.
University management later insisted that CUSU re-register with the government, but ThursdayThe university’s statement said the students had received legal advice that the laws in question did not apply to them.
CUHK issued a statement claiming that it was legally appropriate to ask the union to register under the Companies Ordinance or the Companies Ordinance.
“The university considered that registration under the Companies Ordinance was a well-established and legally mandated framework for the prosecution of CUSU,” the university said.
“The University regrets that CUSU chose an alternative course and independently decided to dissolve its operations,” he said.
Draconian national security law imposed on Hong Kong by the since ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) 1st of July, 2020 has targeted dozens of pro-democracy politicians and activists for “subversion” after holding a primary election in a bid to win more seats in the city’s legislature.
The law prohibits words and acts considered subversive or secessionist, or any activity related to foreign groups, as “collusion with foreign powers”, including public criticism of the Hong Kong government and the CCP.
The disbandment comes after several organizations, including the group that led the now banned Tiananmen massacre vigilantes, protest marches organizers the Civil Human Rights Front, the Professional Teachers Union and Wall-fare , a detainee support group for detainees due to the 2019 protest movement, disbanded after being denounced by Hong Kong leaders or the CCP-backed media.
Former CUSU president and human rights activist Johnson Yeung said CUSU has been a training ground for democratic processes for many generations of Hong Kong students.
“It’s a real shame, and it’s very worrying,” Yeung told RFA. “CUSU was a very democratic organization, where students could discuss current affairs or social events at the university.”
“I learned a lot there about many things including campus labor disputes, democratic movements and connected with my fellow students,” he said. “The loss of this space will mean lost opportunities to practice such things for the students who come after.”
As the union announced its decision, campus management decided to close the CUHK “Democracy Wall” display area, posting a notice stating that it was “temporarily suspended for improvement work. And placing steel barriers and security guards around it.
A CUHK student named Lam said the message to the students was clear.
“The immediate closing of the Democracy Wall is a form of repression,” Lam said. “I don’t think we have the right [to express our opinions now], or if we do, they will be demolished. “
A student named Chan said the two events were clearly linked.
“No sooner was the student union dissolved than they put a fence around the democracy wall,” Chan said. “As student power weakened, students were immediately barred from expressing their opinions.”
Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.