March of CUHK grads risks security breach

Top News | Michael Shum 20 Nov 2020

More than 100 new graduates of Chinese University risked breaching the national security law by chanting Hong Kong independence-related slogans during a protest on campus yesterday.

The slogans they chanted included "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times," which police have said is against the security law.

The national security department of the police force is investigating.

University authorities said they called police, but the graduates vowed to continue resistance and to support the 12 Hongkongers held in Shenzhen.

The protest came after the university moved this year's graduation ceremony online due to the pandemic, but the 100 - wearing black graduation gowns and masks - marched on campus.

Organizers said officials continued to suppress Hongkongers' freedom in the name of fighting the pandemic and declared that students should "bravely say no" to social injustice.

It started around noon when the 100 gathered near the Goddess of Democracy statue and displayed slogans vowing to keep up the resistance and rescue the 12 Hongkongers detained in the mainland after being grabbed by the coast guard while allegedly trying to reach Taiwan.

Students held black balloons but avoided using "independence" in the slogans on banners.

Security personnel warned them they could breach the Public Order Ordinance covering illegal assembly, with one guard filming the action. Some formed up to block off areas of the campus.

But their warnings failed to hit home and students observed moments of silence on the No 2 Bridge on campus, where a confrontation between police and protesters turned violent on November 12 last year.

The rally ended at University Mall, where congregation ceremonies have been held.

A banner reading "Happy graduation CU rioters" was unveiled.

Besides saying a report had gone to police, the university added it "strongly condemned" unlawful activities.

"More than a hundred people participated in a demonstration and procession, in potential violation of the gathering restriction order and the Public Security Ordinance," the university said.

"Some people displayed a Hong Kong independence banner and flag and shouted slogans about Hong Kong independence and the subversion of state power."

The university reported to police earlier after it was found many places on campus had been spray-painted with graffiti.

A graduate named Chan from the Department of Government and Public Administration said the cancellation of the physical congregation was regrettable and questioned whether the university had taken the ceremony online to stop students expressing political views.

He hoped the demonstration could help "keep the flames of resistance alive."

And he noted that "although security personnel kept giving us warnings they did not actually stop us from rallying."

The online congregation was attended by CUHK representatives and professors, student representatives and guests.

But a live broadcast of the event was then hit with technical glitches.

Names of graduates were displayed during the broadcast, but a speech by Henry Wong Nai-ching, head of New Asia College, was disrupted many times. The broadcast went off entirely soon after.

The Education Bureau condemned the rally and said it could have breached the four-person social gathering cap and destroyed public properties on campus.

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