November 24, 2019

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Joint Statement on Tensions at the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong

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To the Editor:

We urge politicians around the world, especially those in the United States, to exert pressure on Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, and the Hong Kong Police Force, to call off violent crackdowns on pro-democracy protesters, and answer the remaining four demands put forth by the protesters.

Throughout the past few weeks, we have seen a substantial amount of arrests, followed by a shocking number of unexplained disappearances, alleged suicides and police rape. Additionally, the HKPF has widely used the word “cockroaches” to dehumanize the protesters. Merely over the past two days, the violence inflicted by the HKPF against the Hong Kong protesters (mainly students) has escalated to unprecedented levels. The HKPF threatened the students with the use of live ammunition on the campus of the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong, and subsequently invaded PolyU with brute force at 5:32 a.m., Nov. 18, Hong Kong Time (GMT +8). Anyone on the Polytechnic University campus, including students, professors, emergency workers, journalists, passersby and even first aid providers are now being targeted indiscriminately by the hands of lawless and vindictive police officers. The riot police are equipped with AR-15 rifles and authorized by HKPF senior officials to use lethal force. The police also chanted, “We want a replay of Tiananmen Square Massacre!” and declared that they were on their way to “slaughter the cockroaches” as they marched onto campus.

The HKPF blockaded the campus, isolating hundreds at the university including first-aid providers and journalists in addition to the protesters. The HKPF made arbitrary arrests of medical staffs and first-aid volunteers, and brutally infringed the rights to seek medical treatment. Additionally, HKPF ambushed ambulances and the university medical center to disrupt the treatment of injured protesters. The police refused to negotiate with the coalition of pan-democrat legislators, the Auxiliary Catholic bishop of Hong Kong and current and former university vice chancellors. Despite all of this, the President of PolyU has taken no effort in negotiating the students’ safety with the HKPF.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam must reverse the blanket ordinance on lethal force and facilitate a de-escalation. The unsolicited deployment of People’s Liberation Army in Hong Kong not only escalates tension in Hong Kong, but also patently challenges the “One Country, Two Systems” principle and threatens Hong Kong’s autonomy. British politicians already contacted Carrie Lam with these concerns. As 85,000 American citizens are currently residing in Hong Kong, the United States government must take action to restore the safety of its citizens in threat.

We, students, alumni and faculty from:

  • Appalachian State University
  • Austin Community College (TX4HK)
  • Bellevue College (Seattle Hong Kong Student Alliance)
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Cornell University (Society for the Promotion of East Asian Liberty)
  • Columbia University
  • Drew University (Drew4HK)
  • Duke University
  • Edmonds Community College (Seattle Hong Kong Student Alliance)
  • Emerson College
  • Gallaudet University, Washington, DC
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • George Mason University
  • George Washington University
  • Georgetown University
  • Green River Community College (Hong Kong Student Aid Committee, Seattle Hong Kong Student Alliance)
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Hong Kong Student Society)
  • Michigan State University
  • New York University (Hong Kong Student Advocacy Group – HKSAG)
  • Northern Virginia Community College
  • Northwestern University (Faculty Senate)
  • Pacific Lutheran University (Seattle Hong Kong Student Alliance)
  • Pratt Institute
  • Princeton University
  • Seattle Central College (Seattle Hong Kong Student Alliance)
  • St. Edward’s University (TX4HK)
  • Temple University
  • The New School
  • University of Arizona
  • University of California, Berkeley (Hong Kong Affairs Association of Berkeley)
  • University of California, Davis (Davis4HK)
  • University of California, Irvine
  • University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA Stands with Hong Kong)
  • University of California, Merced
  • University of California, Riverside
  • University of California, San Diego (Hong Kong Cultural Society)
  • University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSBHKInfoGroup)
  • University of California, Santa Cruz (Slugs in Solidarity with Hong Kong))
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of Delaware
  • University of Maryland Baltimore County
  • University of Michigan (Hong Kong Human Rights Concern Group)
  • University of Minnesota (Liberty for Hong Kong – MN)
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • University of North Florida
  • University of Pennsylvania (Penn4HK)
  • University of Rochester (Students and College Republicans)
  • University of San Francisco
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Texas at Austin (TX4HK)
  • University of Washington (Seattle Hong Kong Student Alliance, Hong Kong Democracy & Human Rights Association)
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Wellesley College
  • Wesleyan University
  • West Virginia University

are calling upon the United States government to take all necessary economic and diplomatic steps to avert potential bloodshed. We urge:

  • The United States Federal Government to offer necessary measures of protection to all American students in Hong Kong and Hong Kong students in the United States.
  • The Senate to immediately vote for the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act (S. 1838), and for the House of Representatives and Senate to accelerate the subsequent conference committee process in order to reconcile the differences between competing versions of the bill.
  • The Trump administration to issue a statement of potential revocation of Hong Kong’s special trade status as guaranteed under the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act in the event of a large-scale violent suppression in Hong Kong.
  • The United States government to impose Magnitsky-style sanctions on Hong Kong and Chinese policymakers, senior police officials and Chinese government officials responsible for the escalation of violence.

The above statement was signed by the Society for the Promotion of East Asian Liberty, a student organization at Cornell. The full list of signatories and their contact information is available here.