Hong Kong Lennon Wall torn down at Australia’s University of Queensland

John Power

An Australian university roiled by weeks of tensions over the protests in Hong Kong has vowed to ramp up security after a Lennon Wall on campus was torn down by a group of masked vandals.

The University of Queensland, which was the site of clashes between pro-Hong Kong and mainland Chinese student protesters last month, on Wednesday pledged to take “appropriate action” against anyone involved who was found to be associated with the university.

CCTV captured four masked individuals entering the student union building on the Brisbane-based campus before the wall was vandalised on Monday night.

Lennon Walls, colourful mosaics of sticky-note messages expressing solidarity and defiance, have become an international symbol of Hong Kong’s democracy movement and the protests against the now-shelved extradition bill, springing up on university campuses in Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Pro-Hong Kong and pro-Beijing groups clash at Australian university

“The University does not condone any actions that prevent free speech, including the targeting of the Lennon Wall in the Student Union complex. The UQ Union has CCTV footage of their premises and has provided it to the University,” a university spokeswoman said, adding that the police had been notified.

Brisbane International Student Solidarity with Hong Kong, a group of Hong Kong students based in Queensland, condemned “the disrespectful acts of those who tore down the UQ Lennon Wall – the very embodiment of our thoughts for Hong Kong, our home.”

Ji Davis, an organiser of pro-Hong Kong protests at the university, said the Lennon Wall on campus had been vandalised again on Tuesday.

“We’re appalled that UQ students are not being allowed their right to free speech on campus, and further appalled at UQ’s lack of response to the issues that have developed over the past fortnight,” said Davis.

Hong Kong, mainland students in conflict at New Zealand university

Last month, scuffles broke out at the university between pro-democracy and pro-China students during a sit-in held to express solidarity with the extradition bill protests in Hong Kong and condemn China’s treatment of Uygurs in Xinjiang.

Meanwhile, the Australian government on Wednesday urged travellers to Hong Kong to “exercise a high degree of caution” when visiting the city due to spiralling unrest in the city.

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