Leung Chun-ying

Excessive force broke up protest, CityU says

University committee finds fault on both sides as it examines events before visit by C.Y. Leung

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 July, 2013, 6:22am

A City University review committee has concluded that security guards who manhandled protesting students out of a building during a campus visit by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying two months ago took inappropriate and unnecessary action.

But the committee's report also criticised the actions of some protesters as undesirable and possibly even dangerous.

We were of the view that the action of removing people under the circumstances was neither the most appropriate nor necessary

The students who were removed had been sitting peacefully on the floor outside a lecture theatre when the guards removed them by force only seconds after issuing a warning, the report said.

"We were of the view that the action of removing people under the circumstances was neither the most appropriate nor necessary," it said. "It was lucky that the action did not lead to more serious conflicts and cause more injuries."

Some 30 students who had planned to present a petition in support of striking dockers complained that they suffered injuries after being dragged and carried away before Leung arrived for his visit on May 6.

The chief executive had been invited to attend an opening ceremony for a new block.

The committee, headed by Professor Ray Yep Kin-man of the university's Public and Social Administration Department, comprised five other members, including a student union representative.

It said protesters on the third-floor podium of the campus had "adopted a rather violent approach" in an effort to force their way into the building, pushing and pulling guests and banging on the glass door.

Referring to media reports that the guards had locked the lecture theatre to prevent journalists from approaching Leung for an interview after the ceremony, the report said the locking of doors had lasted "no more than a couple of minutes".

It said it was difficult to lay blame on the guards, who had taken that decision out of concerns that someone might force their way into the venue.

The report, submitted to City University president Professor Way Kuo, said the university had deployed extra security guards to maintain order on the day including some from an outside company, but that the police had not intervened directly.

Its recommendations included urging the university to reiterate its commitment to safeguarding a free and open campus environment and to recognise the civic-mindedness and pursuit of justice by the students. It should also allow reasonable space for protests and avoid excessive restrictions on access to buildings.