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Hong Kong’s national security police outside the student union office at the University of Hong Kong. Photo: Felix Wong

Hong Kong national security police raid university student union as part of investigation into stabbed officer motion

  • Police enter student union office on HKU campus and cordon off surrounding area; officers also search the on-site premises of student media
  • University previously cut ties with the union over its response to Causeway Bay knife attack and condemned students for ‘serious misconduct’

National security police have raided the offices of the student union and campus media at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) after youth leaders formally expressed appreciation for the “sacrifice” of a man who stabbed an officer before killing himself.

A police source said detectives were investigating whether the student leadership had advocated or incited terrorism under Article 27 of the national security law, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
The operation was launched three days after the university severed all ties with the union, accusing its leaders of “serious misconduct” for passing the since-withdrawn motion and strongly condemning them for “blatantly whitewashing violence, challenging the moral bottom line of our society, and damaging the reputation and interests of the entire HKU community”.

Fifth Hong Kong university student union left facing uncertain future

Police moved on the student union office at the Pok Fu Lam campus at about 3.15pm, extending their search to other floors of the union building and parts of the university housing the video production team Campus TV and magazine Undergrad, both of which are run by students.

No union members were in the office at the time, nor were they spotted in the vicinity. The chairmen of the two media outlets are also members of the Students’ Union Council, which passed last week’s motion in tribute to the dead knifeman.

About 40 officers from the force’s National Security Department were deployed for the search, which lasted nearly four hours, with dozens of Police Tactical Unit officers on standby, according to the police source.

Kong Chak-ho, chairman of Campus TV, said about a dozen police officers had spent nearly two hours combing its office in front of him and the station’s lawyer. A host computer was taken away from the office, Kong added.

Also present were university representatives, including Professor Samson Tse Shu-ki, the dean of student affairs, who was supporting students at the scene.

Police inside the student union offices at the University of Hong Kong. Photo: Felix Wong

The source said the operation was linked to the motion passed on Wednesday last week by the 30 representatives of the student union council, which expressed “deep sadness” at the death of the lone attacker who stabbed a police constable on duty in Causeway Bay on July 1, before turning the knife on himself.

The president of the union and members of its executive committee were not in the building at the time of the raid, he said, adding the operation was aimed at gathering evidence and police were not expecting to make arrests on Friday. Detectives seized computers and documents during the search.

In the wake of condemnation from school management and government officials, members of the union’s executive committee quickly apologised, resigned and withdrew the motion.

Police conduct a search of the HKU student union’s office. Photo: Felix Wong
But their response did little to tamp down the controversy, with Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, also the chancellor of HKU, on Tuesday urging school management to take further action. The university cut ties with the student union within hours of Lam’s remarks.

On Friday, an HKU spokesman confirmed that police had entered the campus with a court order to investigate a case, adding the university was obliged to comply with officers.

HKU had not made any report to police relating to the matter, according to a source.


Assailant dies after stabbing Hong Kong police officer and then himself on busy street

Assailant dies after stabbing Hong Kong police officer and then himself on busy street

Michelle Chan, a first-year social science student who was in the union building when police arrived, said she was shocked to see officers in the complex. She and her peers were asked to leave immediately.

“Everything has come so suddenly. I would’ve hoped our school might try to reach a consensus with us first [before distancing itself from the union],” she added.

But a mainland Chinese engineering student, surnamed Yang, backed what he called police’s reasonable investigation.

“The student union has done something that has crossed the line, such as using the body’s name to engage in political activities,” he said.

Arthur Li, chairman of the university’s governing council. Photo: Dickson Lee
Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, chairman of the university’s governing council, previously said he would welcome a national security investigation into the student body, which he described as “basically supporting violence and the attack on July 1”.

As well as terrorism, the Beijing-imposed national security law outlaws acts of secession, subversion and collusion with foreign forces. The maximum sentence for breaking the legislation’s most serious offences is life imprisonment.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: HKU student union offices raided in ‘stab motion’ probe