The City University of Hong Kong (CityU) has demanded a response from a group of students in connection with a farewell ceremony for the students’ union. The move came almost two months after national security police launched a probe into the event.

At least 30 students received emails from the university’s Facilities Management Office on Monday accusing them of committing various offences and misconduct at a rally staged on campus on February 14, sources close to the matter told HKFP on Tuesday.

Students of the City University of Hong Kong stage a walk on campus on February 14, 2022. Photo: City Broadcasting Channel (CBC).

CityU’s student body organised a “parting ceremony” that day before it moved out of its premises on the Kowloon Tong campus at the university’s request. The eviction came after the union failed to submit 16 years of audited financial records within a two-week deadline.

According to Monday’s emails, some students stood accused of breaching section 9 of the colonial-era Crimes Ordinance by persuading rally attendees not to register with the Facilities Management Office amid the fifth wave of Covid-19.

The ceremony – which included a walk, painting slogans on the floor and putting up memo stickers on a democracy message board – was described as an “unnecessary gathering on campus” when the pandemic was spreading across the city. Those who took part may have breached social distancing rules stipulated under the Prevention and Control of Disease (Prohibition on Gathering) Regulation, the office wrote.

Other allegations listed included committing criminal damage by defacing university property, staying on campus beyond opening hours without approval, being abusive towards university security staff, and taking part in a conspiracy involving trafficking outsiders onto campus.

City University. File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Each email listed the alleged wrongdoings and identified the students that were accused of committing them. Students were asked to respond as to whether they admitted to the allegations by April 22, sources said.

In response to HKFP’s enquiries, CityU said on Tuesday night that its departments handled matters in accordance with “well-established mechanisms and procedures.” Outsiders should not “interfere” with the university’s administration, it said.

“The University does not micro-manage the daily operations of its units; external parties should not interfere with the administration of the University,” an email reply read. CityU’s latest remarks contradicted its comments on earlier media reports, in which the university was quoted as saying the management had no knowledge of the emails sent.

In late February, national security police launched an investigation into the union’s farewell ceremony, citing reports that some people had written words and sentences deemed as inciting “Hong Kong independence.”

CityU told HKFP at the time that it had reported a suspected breach of social distancing rules to the police after students ignored repeated warnings from security personnel. The university said it was “completely unaware” and did not witness the “alleged unexpected national security issue” that unfolded later.

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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.