The heads of 11 universities in Hong Kong have urged their students to refrain from attending a rally in Yuen Long on Saturday citing concerns for their personal safety.
The joint statement on Wednesday comes three days after a mob violently assaulted commuters and journalists in the New Territories suburb, leaving at least 45 people injured, with one in a critical condition.
A march dubbed “Defend Yuen Long” is scheduled to take place on Saturday to protest against the attack as well as the police, who residents allege turned a blind eye to initial distress calls. Secretary for Security John Lee and police chief Stephen Lo put the 30-minute delay down to a lack of manpower.
University heads advised students who plan to attend the upcoming protest to take care of themselves and contact their respective Student Affairs Offices for help.
“We are all very shocked and deeply saddened by the incidents in Hong Kong last weekend. We also note that further activities are being planned in Yuen Long this coming weekend,” the statement read. “As the situation is still evolving and can become extremely volatile and dangerous, we want to make the strongest plea to you to stay away for your personal safety.”
The letter was signed by the Hong Kong University President and Vice-Chancellor Zhang Xiang, who has faced criticism for his reproach of protesters’ storming of the Legislative Council Complex on July 1. Zhang said on July 3 that he was “disheartened by the violence that occurred in the Legislative Council building and would like to condemn such destructive acts,” but backed down a week later, pledging to listen more to young people.
”In full: Joint letter from 11 University heads – Click to view“
We are all very shocked and deeply saddened by the incidents in Hong Kong last weekend. We also note that further activities are being planned in Yuen Long this coming weekend. As the situation is still evolving and can become extremely volatile and dangerous, we want to make the strongest plea to you to stay away for your personal safety. Please take good care of yourselves.
If you need help, please contact your Student Affairs Offices. Please be assured that we will do our best to take care of those in need at this difficult time.
”List of signatories – Click to view“
Way Kuo, President, City University of Hong Kong
Roland Chin, President and Vice-Chancellor, Hong Kong Baptist University
Hu Fai-Chung, Deputy President, Hong Kong Shue Yan University
Leonard Cheng, President, Lingnan University
Rocky S Tuan, Vice-Chancellor and President, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Stephen Chueng, President, The Education University of Hong Kong
Adrian Walter, Director, The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts
Teng Jin-Guang, President, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Wei Shyy, President, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Wong Yuk-Shan, President, The Open University of Hong Kong
Zhang Xiang, President and Vice-Chancellor, The University of Hong Kong
Sectors gear up to protest
Hong Kong has entered its seventh consecutive week of protests sparked by the controversial extradition bill, which would enable the city to handle fugitive transfer requests to jurisdictions including China. The proposed law was suspended on June 15 but not axed, fuelling public anger towards the government.
The movement has since adopted multiple demands including calls for an independent investigation into alleged police misconduct related to the use of crowd control measures, and for Chief Executive Carrie Lam to resign from office.
Workers from the travel industry will hold a rally in Hong Kong International Airport on Friday, calling for the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill; retraction of the term “riot” to describe the June 12 protest; exoneration of all arrested protesters; establishment of an independent commission of inquiry, and implementation of universal suffrage. The event has been organised independently of the Airport Authority.
Meanwhile, medical sector professionals are set to protest at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kowloon on the same day over authorities’ handling of recent political crisis.