Pro-independence slogans at three more universities have been removed following incidents at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).
Multiple banners were spotted at the Chinese University on Monday before they were removed by the school, which said it does not support independence. The school also said the Basic Law states that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China.
But after the removal, more banners and posters were put up at other universities in support of CUHK students. Some of them were put up by student unions, whilst others were put up by students or anonymous persons.
At the City University of Hong Kong, slogans such as “Hong Kong independence” and “Support the Chinese University student union” were put up on a public message board managed by the student union.
The characters “independence” were removed by school security guards, who said the student responsible for the posters – who left their information on them – did not exist. University management told local media that it does not allow students to advocate illegal actions.
However, the student union said the student could be identified using the student number written on the slogans, and that the slogans met the student union’s requirements.
“When the school removes ‘Hong Kong independence’ from the board… it not only violates the mutual trust between the student union and the school, but also infringes on the freedom of City University students,” it said in a statement.
Executive Councillor and senior counsel Ronny Tong said the act of putting up pro-independence banners may violate Section 9 of the Crimes Ordinance on seditious intention.
But the student union said they would “gladly receive the sentence.”
“We will become the first prisoners for speech crime after the handover,” it said.
There is no law in Hong Kong forbidding the discussion of independence.
【編委速報】民主牆港獨標語被撕今天出現於民主牆的標語——「香港獨立 支援中大學生會」及「提倡港獨沒有罪 聲援中大學生」，於晩上約8時35分被物業管理處的工作人員撕掉。撕掉標語的物業管理處工作人員表示民主牆為學生會管理，聲稱校方已與學生會臨委溝通。臨委成員回應指校方並沒有在事前聯絡，而是經臨委成員查證後才收到校方通知。
Pro-independence slogans supporting CUHK students also appeared on a message board at the Polytechnic University. They were removed on Wednesday night by its Facilities Management Office, but more slogans have appeared since.
The non-elected, temporary administration of its student union said it still manages the message board, but the school did not notify it before removal.
“We are very disappointed by the school’s actions,” it said.
The Education University also said pro-independence slogans at the school violated the Basic Law and added that they have been removed.
“The student union is mandated by the public – the autonomy of students should not be interfered with. We strongly condemn the school for intervening with the student union’s autonomy, harming Hong Kong’s freedom of speech,” its student union said in a statement.
— Sijia (@SijiaJ) September 7, 2017
The University of Hong Kong and Baptist University have not removed pro-independence banners, saying that the message boards are managed by student unions.