The student union of the University of Hong Kong might be in violation of the Beijing-imposed national security law for thanking the man who killed himself after stabbing a police officer, Hong Kong’s police chief has said.

Commissioner of Police Raymond Siu said that “thanking the assailant for sacrificing for Hong Kong” might be “equivalent to agreeing or even beautifying the assailant’s behaviour.” Such words may violate the national security law for promoting terrorism and inciting terrorist activities, he added.

Hong Kong Commissioner of Police Raymond Siu. Photo: Hong Kong Police, via Facebook.

“…when their behaviour might have caused hostility between different groups in Hong Kong, there might also be a chance that they have violated the incitement law,” said Siu on a TVB news show on Sunday.

The police chief’s comments came after the national security police searched the University of Hong Kong’s student union last Friday, after the government and university criticised students for sympathising with the man who stabbed an officer on July 1 – the 24th anniversary of the city’s handover.

The HKU Students’ Union Council passed a motion on July 7 to “express deep sadness” over the death of the 50-year-old attacker, Leung Kin-fai. The declaration also thanked Leung for “his sacrifice to Hong Kong.”

The student union resigned and issued an apology two days later, after the Security Bureau condemned them, saying it was “no different from supporting and encouraging terrorism, which goes against humanity and the people.”

The university also issued a statement denouncing the council, and said last Tuesday that it stopped recognising its student union as a registered student body and will “seriously investigate” students involved in the declaration.

Staff and officers seen entering HKUSU premises. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

In an interview with HK01 published on Sunday, Siu said that the student’s union apology “could only serve as mitigation at best,” and they should not think that “apologising after the act might make them not guilty.”

Investigation over laying flowers

Following the attack, people tried laying flowers in Causeway Bay at the location of the assault to mourn Leung. Siu said that the police “cannot rule out the possibility” that these people might be investigated.

The police commissioner said that they would have to investigate whether people laying flowers were suspected of further actions, including making seditious speeches.

The national security law, enacted in June last year, criminalised subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts, which were broadly defined to include disruption to public transport and other infrastructure.

If you are experiencing negative feelings, please call: The Samaritans 2896 0000 (24-hour, multilingual), Suicide Prevention Centre 2382 0000 or the Social Welfare Department 2343 2255. The Hong Kong Society of Counselling and Psychology provides a WhatsApp hotline in English and Chinese: 6218 1084. See also: HKFP’s comprehensive guide to mental health services in Hong Kong.

Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.