CUHK student union announces collective resignation, citing harassment and death threats

The Chinese University student union cabinet, Syzygia, announced that their resignation on Mar. 1, 2021. Photo: Facebook/RTHK
The Chinese University student union cabinet, Syzygia, announced that their resignation on Mar. 1, 2021. Photo: Facebook/RTHK

The Chinese University’s student union announced their collective resignation Monday, explaining that some members have been receiving threats to themselves and their families.

Student leaders have in recent weeks become the target of the university’s authorities, which released two heavily-worded statements last month condemning the cabinet, Syzygia, for their “possibly unlawful remarks” to media and “political propaganda.”

In the second statement on Feb. 26, the university declared that it would suspend financial and administrative support for the cabinet, and require the union to register as an independent society, effectively cutting ties with the group.

“The Student Union Executive Committee members have made false allegations against the University and exploited the campus for their political propaganda, which ran counter to the mission of CUHK and brought the University into disrepute,” the statement read.

Read more: CUHK graduates march, chant protest slogans on campus after school cancels ceremony

Speaking at a press conference Monday evening, the first day of office for the newly elected cabinet, union president Issac Lam announced the decision of all 12 members to step down from their positions.

“From the moment they released their [second] statement, CUSU (Chinese University Student Union) has ceased to exist except in name,” Lam said, adding that members have been on the receiving end of intimidation and even death threats aimed at their family.

Lam emphasized that their quitting is not an act of caving in to the pressure of the university management, but a means of address to the university’s students who elected them.

News of the resignation came hours after Hong Kong charged dozens of pro-democracy activists, among them district councilors and ex-lawmakers, with subversion under Beijing’s most sweeping and high-profile use of the national security law since it came into effect.

Hundreds gathered outside the West Kowloon Law Courts Building to show their support for the defendants, making for scenes reminiscent of pre-pandemic, pre-security legislation days when demonstrations swept the city’s streets.

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