Police groups slam CUHK chief's open letter on arrested students

October 24, 2019 16:27
CUHK Vice Chancellor Rocky Tuan has faced a backlash from police groups after he said he would call for independent investigations into student allegations of police excesses. Photo: RTHK News video/screenshot

Police groups have criticized the head of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) over his open letter wherein he had raised concern over alleged mistreatment that some students had suffered at the hands of law enforcement personnel during the extradition bill-related street demonstrations.

Taking issue with the statement released by Professor Rocky Tuan Sung-chi last Friday, four police officers’ associations have jointly issued their own open letter, accusing the university chief of giving credence to unsubstantiated allegations of students about police excesses.

Also, they questioned why Tuan, who is the president and vice-chancellor of CUHK, failed to acknowledge the suspected illegal acts of the students who had been arrested, or challenge the pupils' claims of abuse of power by the police.

Suggesting that the university chief had shown bias due to pressure from the students, the police groups said in their open letter on Wednesday that they cannot sit by when faced with "unverified accusations" of misconduct.    

The associations said they find it unacceptable that university authorities would take the side of students who take part in illegal acts of violence and vandalism.

Going further, they said that there is a view in society that CUHK has been used as a base by people who advocate Hong Kong independence.

They urged Tuan to think carefully and take action to ensure that law-breaking students bear responsibility for their acts.

The four associations which penned the letter are the Superintendents' Association, the Hong Kong Police Inspectors' Association, the Overseas Inspectors' Association, and the Junior Police Officers' Association.

Slamming the university chief, they said the letter released by Tuan last week failed to give a full or unbiased picture, with the alleged criminal offences of the students failing to get a mention.

In his letter, Tuan had urged Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to “initiate independent investigation of the 20 or so cases involving CUHK students” where there were allegations of "unreasonable treatments in varying degrees of severity" at the hands of the police.

The investigation should be carried out aside from the existing mechanisms related to complaints on the police, the CUHK chief suggested, proclaiming that "only the truth can bring justice to all."

The letter came a week after the CUHK head had a dialogue with hundreds of its students, staff and alumni, followed by a closed-door conversation with some students who had been arrested in the past few months for participating in Hong Kong's ongoing protest movement.

In response to Tuan’s open letter, Lam told a radio program a day later that while she can understand Tuan’s concern for his students, care should be taken that the real truth and facts are taken into account.

If some students feel they were treated unfairly and unjustly, Tuan should encourage them to come forward to lodge their complaints through existing mechanisms, Lam said.

In response to an inquiry from the Hong Kong Economic Journal, CUHK said it has no comment on the letter by the four police associations.

Meanwhile, CUHK students on Wednesday gave a Thumbs Up to Tuan’s perceived stance against police brutality.

A large-size black banner in Chinese that said “Conscience will not be silenced by authority” was unfurled on the campus by the student union.

On the banner, several students wrote down messages appreciating Tuan for speaking out for students, and for also giving a pep talk to the student community.

Some pupils, meanwhile, also scribbled words of apology for having lashed out at the university chief earlier and accusing him of not doing enough to protect the student protesters.

The banner was later handed to the CUHK management.

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