Four Hong Kong police unions have written an open letter to a university vice-chancellor demanding he respond to accusations that he helped trigger fierce battles between police and protesters at the height of the pro-democracy protests last year.

Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) vice-chancellor Rocky Tuan held a public forum with students on campus in October 2019. Students at the scene criticised what they described as his bureaucratic attitude and one of them, Sonia Ng, accused police of sexual assaults during arrests.

CUHK head Rocky Tuan being escorted away after tear gas was fired. Photo: Stand News.

Tuan then decided to have an hour-long closed-door conversation with students and some of them said afterwards that the university chief had been more understanding than they had expected.

A week later, Tuan said in an open letter that the school was in touch with 20 students who reported different degrees of police mistreatment following their arrests. He urged an independent probe into the force.

Four police associations in response issued a joint statement in October 2019 expressing regret at Tuan’s letter and saying it was based on unverified allegations. They slammed the vice-chancellor for not challenging his students’ allegations or providing evidence to support them.

In a letter dated on Friday, the four police groups again wrote to Tuan, following up on their criticisms of more than a year ago and asking him to respond. They said his claims were false and unsubstantiated.

Police said Tuan’s letter may have fuelled the battle between protesters and police on November 12 last year, when riot police firing tear gas and projectiles stormed the campus.

Photo: Kaiser/United Social Press.

“Would Dr Tuan agree that what you have said in the past might have sent a wrong message to students and the public, which triggered a series of severely violent acts and destructive events, and that you should be partly responsible for Hong Kong’s irredeemable situation?” the police associations asked him in their letter.

They demanded an apology from Tuan, a bioengineering scientist.

“As a scientist, Dr Tuan has neglected an important scientific principle of seeking the truth, just by the students’ one-sided account to openly accuse the police force,” they wrote. “Would you clearly explain to members of the public regarding the false claims you have made in the past, and bring justice to those who were hurt by your words?”

The police unions urged Tuan to “admit his past mistakes” and “take responsibility” for his words by replying to their letter.

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Rachel Wong

Rachel Wong previously worked as a documentary producer and academic researcher. She has a BA in Comparative Literature and European Studies from the University of Hong Kong. She has contributed to A City Made by People and The Funambulist, and has an interest in cultural journalism and gender issues.