Seven student unions on Thursday accused the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) of becoming a “puppet of tyranny”, as they criticised the institution’s decision to cut ties with its own student union.
CUHK last Thursday said it would stop providing administrative support to the student union as well as venues for its activities after accusing its new cabinet, Syzygia, of failing to clarify what the institution said were potentially unlawful statements and false allegations.
In a joint statement, the student unions from the University of Hong Kong, Polytechnic University, Hang Seng University, City University, Tung Wah College, Lingnan University, and Baptist University condemned the move.
They said Syzygia was elected legitimately, and accused CUHK of oppressing student autonomy, and stripping the student union of power.
"Under immense pressure from different parties, the personal safety of the students may have become the sacrifice under the rule of the Government, with members of the executive committee and their families receiving death threats," it said.
"The Vice-Chancellor of CUHK, Professor Rocky S. Tuan said that educators must not give up on young people, but now let alone fulfilling their responsibility of protecting their students, they became the ones that sacrificed their students, suppressing the voice of opposition in order to please the tyranny."
The unions also warned that the university’s interference into student governance has led to self-censorship among students, and that this would lead to "the erosion of academic freedom".
CUHK’s decision to cut ties with the student union last week led to Syzygia announcing on Monday that it would resign.
At a press conference held on campus, the group cited increasing political pressure, and union president Isaac Lam said some cabinet members had received nuisance calls and even death threats over the saga.
CUHK has denied putting pressure on the student union.