Dear students and colleagues,
Hong Kong is going through an extremely difficult time. Tensions are very high, if not inflammatory. I am greatly concerned by the disruption to regular University activities and the property damage on campus. All the more reason for us to appeal to you to stay calm, rational and avoid confrontation at any level.
I wish to update you about the situation regarding police action on the University campus since midnight. Five of our students have been arrested and I have written to the Commissioner of Police to express my concern and to ask the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) to ensure the safety of the detained students and to observe fully their fundamental rights.
During the past 24 hours, Deans, wardens, professors, CEDARS, security and other staff have devoted their best efforts to help defuse situations and find solutions. Some students have also sought to show understanding of mutual frustrations and have helped resolve some tensions. I am truly grateful to all those who are contributing to keep this campus safe and rational.
Around 1:10 a.m. this morning, an HKU student was arrested in a public area just outside the campus on Pokfulam Road. University staff members were present to assist in defusing the situation.
Around 7:30 a.m., the HKPF began clearing roadblocks that had been constructed on Pokfulam Road near the West Gate of the Main Campus. In the process, some students were chased onto the campus. Four HKU students were arrested.
Today police presence was also observed on campus, and we were informed by the police that they were responding to 999 calls. We noticed that tear gas and pepper spray were fired in the vicinity of the campus.
Again I wish to bring to your attention the fact that the University has an established protocol with the HKPF regarding police entry onto campus grounds.
The in-principle agreement under the protocol is that the HKPF will not enter the campus, except in the following situations:
a) To respond to 999 calls; or
b) To enter with a Search Warrant or Court order or other legal document.
It is important to also be aware that under Section 10, 50(3) and 50(4) of the Police Force Ordinance, a police officer may enter any public or private premises (without the need for consent) if the officer reasonably suspects that a person to be arrested is on the premises.
We understand that these are times when emotions are running high everywhere. We are also very saddened to see the casualties and loss of life arising from the protests. Let us remember that this is our campus, where we study and work, and we should safeguard it.
Once again, we urge all members of the University to stay calm, rational, and make safety their first priority.
Professor Xiang Zhang
President and Vice-Chancellor
and the Senior Management Team