Responding to today’s arrests of eight people who participated in a protest at Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) last month, including three students who have been charged under the national security law, Amnesty International Hong Kong’s Programme Manager Lam Cho Ming said:
“Chanting political slogans, singing songs and waving flags should never be crimes, but there is a grim predictability about these arrests that lays bare the deterioration of human rights in Hong Kong since the national security law was enacted.
“The people involved in this small protest were merely expressing their views peacefully, but this is now treated as a crime as the Hong Kong and central Chinese authorities seek to crush all forms of dissent.
“Today’s arrests are yet another example of the Hong Kong government’s attempts to silent opposing views on campus. Amid sweeping repression of freedom of expression in Hong Kong’s education institutions, students and teaching staff from primary schools, secondary schools and universities alike have become targets of political prosecutions under the pretext of ‘national security’.
“The people arrested for protesting at CUHK have been targeted solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly and they should be released immediately and unconditionally, with all charges against them dropped.”
Dozens of students chanted protest slogans in an unofficial “graduation day” march at CUHK on Thursday 17 November.
On Monday 7 December, eight people who participated in the protest were arrested and charged with unauthorized assembly. Three of those arrested were additionally charged under the national security law with “inciting secession”.
Some of the slogans heard at the protest, such as “Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our times” and the song “Glory to Hong Kong”, have been banned since the Beijing-imposed national security law was adopted on 30 June 2020.
Since the enactment of the law, universities have increasingly restricted freedom of expression and peaceful assembly on campus, including the peaceful expression of political views. In the past four months, at least three university teachers supportive of the pro-democracy movement have been relieved of their posts.