At least eight unidentified people have razed the pro-democracy message board at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), according to the student union.

The white-clad group arrived at the “Lennon Walls” on Upper University Street at around 7 pm on Saturday, wearing gloves and carrying detergent as well as plastic bags, the union’s Executive Committee wrote on Facebook.

Photo: CampusTV.

The group then left via the connecting HKU MTR station, CampusTV reported.

“The Lennon Walls were created by students of the University of Hong Kong [over] months, yet were sabotaged in minutes. Such [vandals] disregarded students’ freedom of expression, and even inhumanely sabotaged the altar of martyrs. This Committee strongly condemns such acts,” the union wrote.

“In [the] face of various suppressions, we shall never surrender. We vow to safeguard the freedom of expression of students. The Lennon Wall in the University certainly will not vanish and students’ voices will not be stamped out.”

Union President Edy Jeh told HKFP the wall had been torn down in parts before the enactment of the Beijing-led national security law, but not to this extent.

She said the student body has not received replies to complaint letters sent to HKU’s security services and contractor: “We have asked for CCTV and an investigation report from both parties,” adding that they have viewed surveillance footage of the incident.

The union and StandUpHKUers Petition Group have organised an event to rebuild the message board on Tuesday.

Photo: CampusTV.

Named after the late Beatles musician John Lennon, “Lennon Walls” gained popularity in Hong Kong during the 2014 Umbrella movement and usually consist of Post-It notes or signs expressing support for the city’s pro-democracy movement. They have often been the site of conflict between people with opposing political views, and are subject to repeated government razing.

A spokesperson for HKU told HKFP the university believes students’ opinions should be expressed in “a civilised manner through rational debates.”

“We make all attempts to promote civility on campus and will not tolerate acts of incivility that promote hatred or violence. We are currently working with the related student body concerning the incident and will provide assistance where appropriate.” 

Jennifer Creery

Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.