Hong Kong Police Arrest Four Students Over Motion Supporting Suicide Attacker

The students are being held under the national security law on suspicion of 'advocating terrorism.'
By Man Hoi Yan and Cheng Yut Yiu
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Hong Kong Police Arrest Four Students Over Motion Supporting Suicide Attacker Lin Chengheng, a former member of the Student Union of the University of Hong Kong, is shown being arrested by national security police, Aug. 18, 2021.

Police on Wednesday arrested four former University of Hong Kong student union leaders for publicly mourning a man who carried out a suicide attack on a police officer.

The students were arrested under a national security law imposed on the city by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on suspicion of "advocating terrorism," national security police senior superintendent Steve Li told reporters.

The students, aged 18-20, were among those who spoke at a student union council meeting that passed a motion mourning the death of Leung Kin-fai, who stabbed himself to death outside the Sogo department store on July 1, 2021 after stabbing a police officer.

Li said the students had "glorified and beautified" terrorism, and the fact that the council later withdrew the motion thanking Leung for his "sacrifice" and apologized over the incident would likely be taken into account.

"[Their actions] were completely incompatible with our moral standards," he said. "When they were done speaking, they lost no time in distributing the motion after it was passed ... to the public."

Article 27 of the national security law states that anyone "who advocates terrorism or incites the commission of a terrorist activity shall be guilty of an offense."

Former student union president Kwok Wing-ho and council chief Cheung King-sang were among those arrested.

Li said police will also be talking to others who described Leung as a "martyr."

Secretary for security Chris Tang said advocating terrorism was a serious crime, as it could encourage others to take part in "terrorist" attacks.

Failure to protect

Former student union president Cheung Yiu-fai hit out at the university for its failure to protect and mediate on behalf of the students.

"It doesn't look as if any university in Hong Kong can really be considered a globally important university any more," Cheung told RFA.

"The scholars and the management, the people with the authority to make such decisions, are totally unqualified to call themselves international scholars."

"They expose the students in their charge to totalitarian rule, and even act as executioners to allow them to be exploited, oppressed, and to lose their freedom," he said.

Another former student union president Kwok Wing-kin said the arrests were designed to frighten everyone else into silence.

"Really, this is a form of pressure intended to create an atmosphere in which everyone keeps quiet," Kwok told RFA. "There is basically no room left for civil society nowadays, and that includes student unions."

The University of Hong Kong declined to comment when contacted by RFA on Wednesday, saying only that the case is currently under investigation, and that commenting would be inappropriate.

Students who attended the July 7 meeting have been barred from university premises, services, and facilities.

Officials have warned that anyone visibly mourning or sympathizing with Leung's death could be breaking the national security law, and are treating the incident as a terrorist attack.

The ban on former union members came after Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam called for action against the union, after which national security police raided the union office on July 16.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


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