The University of Hong Kong (HKU) on Tuesday sacked veteran pro-democracy activist Benny Tai from his tenured position as an associate professor of law, in a move he called “the end of academic freedom” in the Chinese-ruled city.
Tai was a leading figure in Hong Kong’s 2014 “Umbrella” protests, which paralyzed the city for 79 days as demonstrators occupied main roads demanding greater democracy.
He was sentenced to 16 months in prison last year for two public nuisance offences, but released on bail pending an appeal -- a conviction which prompted HKU to begin reviewing his position more than half a year ago.
New Hong Kong Security law: Police fire water cannon at protesters, make first arrest
“It marks the end of academic freedom in Hong Kong,” Tai said on Facebook of the decision by the governing council, which reversed an earlier decision by the university senate that there were not enough grounds for a dismissal.
“Academic institutions in Hong Kong cannot protect their members from internal and outside interferences.”
Tai was also singled out by Beijing officials earlier this month for his role in helping organize an unofficial primary vote for the opposition prodemocracy camp to select candidates for elections for the city’s legislature this year.
For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app
Beijing said at the time Tai’s goal was “to seize the ruling power of Hong Kong and ... carry out a Hong Kong version of ‘color revolution’.” It said the vote was illegal and may have violated a new, sweeping national security law, which many fear will erode freedoms in the semi-autonomous city, including those of the media and academia.
Beijing and the city’s government have said the law will not affect rights and freedoms and that it was needed to plug security loopholes left by the city’s failure to introduce such laws on its own.
HKU said in a statement its council “resolved a personnel issue concerning a teaching staff member” following a “lengthy,” “stringent” and “impartial” process, without naming Tai.
The university could not be reached for comment outside business hours.
China’s actions in Hong Kong and Xinjiang figure in Pompeo-Johnson talksUS Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson discussed China’s actions in Hong Kong and its treatment of Muslims in ... World News
China says UK will ‘bear consequences’ after Hong Kong extradition treaty suspendedChina will resolutely respond to acts of interference in its internal affairs, a spokesman for the country's embassy to the United Kingdom said on ... World News
Over 600,000 Hong Kongers cast pro-democracy vote against new security lawsHong Kong’s opposition camp said on Sunday that over 600,000 citizens in the Chinese-ruled city cast ballots over the weekend in primaries it cast as ... World News
Facebook, Whatsapp say suspending user info requests from Hong Kong governmentFacebook and its messaging service WhatsApp said Monday they are suspending requests from the Hong Kong government and law enforcement authorities for ... Digital
China rebukes Canada over criticism of Hong Kong security law amid tense relationsChina fired back at Canada on Saturday for criticizing Beijing’s national security law for Hong Kong, the second rebuke in a week that has added to ... World News
Democracy books disappear from Hong Kong days after China imposed security lawBooks written by prominent Hong Kong democracy activists have started to disappear from the city’s libraries, online records show, days after Beijing ... World News
Hong Kong police charge first person as new security law passesHong Kong police on Friday brought their first charges under a sweeping new national security law that Beijing imposed on the city earlier this week. ... World News
New Hong Kong Security law: Police fire water cannon at protesters, make first arrestHong Kong police fired water cannon on Wednesday to break up the first protest since China introduced sweeping security legislation and they made ... World News