The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has warned against an “illegal use of portraits” in the promotional materials for an exhibition organised by student unions to mark a year since the campus turned into a battleground between police and pro-democracy protesters last November.

In a statement issued on Wednesday night, CUHK raised concerns over the use of portraits in the promotional materials for the upcoming show on November 11 to 18. The CUHK Students’ Union said the display would feature photos and a timeline linked to the “five-day siege” of the university, as well as testimony from the students arrested.

CUHK Chinese University of Hong Kong "November 12" protest
The Chinese University of Hong Kong on November 12, 2019. Photo: Jimmy Lam/United Social Press.

The poster for the exhibition depicts black-clad protester wearing goggles and a respirator, with other demonstrators waving protest banners in the background amid clouds of white smoke. The poster also included an image of tear gas canisters and photos of Joseph Sung and Rocky Tuan – the former and current vice-chancellors of CUHK.

“[The] content may be suspected of using portraits illegally and inappropriately. The university urges the event organiser to immediately change or remove the promotional materials concerned, and solemnly remind them do not defy the law,” the university said.

The school authorities said they had strongly condemned the “life-endangering and irresponsible” behaviour during the clashes on campus last year, adding that they regretted to see the organiser’s plan to give a “biased description” of the events.

The police-protester skirmishes at the Sha Tin-based campus began in the morning of November 11, 2019, after objects were thrown onto the nearby railway tracks and the Tolo Highway to paralyse traffic in response to a general strike.

The clashes reached its peak the following day, as riot police stormed the university to make arrests. Officers fired around 2,330 canisters of tear gas, and deployed rubber bullets and a water cannon truck, as protesters hurled bricks and petrol bombs. Some also set fire to the roadblocks around the vast campus, while others made use of sports gear such as javelins, arrows and bows as weapons.

november 12 CUHK chinese university
Protesters clash with riot police on CUHK campus. Photo: Stand News.

The student body said the exhibition aimed to “keep history alive” and called on public to stand in solidarity with their peers who were arrested for “defending” the campus.

“Even though our physical campus is now restored to its former glory, what lurks behind this green facade remains: The psychological traumatic experience of the siege continues to haunt us, and is forever etched deeply into our hearts and minds,” the CUHK Students’ Union wrote on Facebook on Wednesday.

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Kelly Ho

Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.