University of Hong Kong (HKU) students have demanded the release of security camera footage from the night a so-called Lennon Wall was vandalised, while calling on its president to condemn the act.
HKU’s student union also accused the university’s security unit of not doing enough to stop Saturday night’s destruction of the site bearing messages in support of the anti-government protest movement.
A group of “outsiders”, most of whom were reportedly middle-aged, entered the university’s centennial campus and ripped off posters backing last year’s unrest and highlighting the case of 12 Hongkongers detained in mainland China after trying to flee to Taiwan.
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Around 20 students, some wearing hooded jackets and goggles to prevent identification, responded to the union’s call to rebuild the Lennon Wall on Tuesday afternoon.
In response to the vandalism, the school made a police statement but told students that officers would not enter the campus to conduct investigation at this stage, according to union president Edy Jeh Tsz-lam.
Jeh demanded that university president Zhang Xiang condemned the vandalism, and meet student representatives as soon as possible.
Steve Lo Chit-ki, the university’s executive vice-president, said on Monday it would strengthen access control measures for the Pok Fu Lam campuses.
Students and staff are required to produce their university ID cards on entry, while visitors may be required to provide personal details. Security staff may also conduct random checks of baggage at the entrances.
Jeh described the response as inadequate, and said the university being an open campus was “not the problem”.
“The crux of the problem is how security staff respond to an emergency,” he said. “I would say the school has placed the wrong emphasis.”
Saturday’s incident was the second time the Lennon Wall on campus had been vandalised in recent months. On July 11, at least eight white-clad people similarly tore apart posters there.
Jeh said the management should revise security protocols, which banned security staff from physical contact with others when performing their duties.
“My personal view is that you certainly cannot protect students from harm if you refrain from any physical contact with the perpetrators,” Jeh said.
Business student Cherry, who did not wish to disclose her full name, was one of the students who showed up on Tuesday to rebuild the Lennon Wall.
“The messages on the wall were mainly wishes for everyone’s safety and our conviction to protect Hong Kong. Printing them took a lot of time and effort,” she said.
Student union members on Tuesday submitted a letter stating their three demands to HKU registrar Jeannie Tsang Wing-shi, but issued no deadline for a response.
Without addressing the students’ demands, a spokesman said the university would continue to review campus security measures and on-site management.
Lennon Walls popped up throughout the city during last year’s protests – which were sparked by the now-withdrawn extradition bill – as places for supporters to post slogans and notes of encouragement.
However, they quickly became hotspots for conflict between opposing political camps in the city.
The original Lennon Wall was established in the 1980s in Prague in memory of John Lennon, after he was gunned down in New York.
More from South China Morning Post:
- University of Hong Kong beefs up security as student union calls on peers to help repair vandalised Lennon Wall
- Taiwan deports second mainland Chinese man for defacing Lennon Wall backing Hong Kong protests