The University of Auckland has launched a formal investigation after students clashed over the Hong Kong protests.
The investigation was commissioned shortly after the Auckland-based group ‘We Are Hong Kongers’ posted a video of the incident on their Facebook page. The video shows several students arguing in the university quad.
The argument appears to start when three Chinese students approach a group of ‘We Are Hong Kongers’, who are expressing support for the Hong Kong protests. The two groups begin arguing in a mixture of Mandarin and English – the anti-protest students call the ‘We Are Hong Kongers’ “fucking pigs … [who] cannot understand human language”, and advise them Hong Kong should “get out of China” if they don’t like the country. Things threaten to get physical when one anti-protest student pushes a pro-protest student with his shoulder, causing them to fall. Shortly afterwards, the anti-protest students leave the area.
Shortly after the video was posted, Stuart McCutcheon sent out a mass email to all students. “An incident on Monday led to what we consider to be a conduct issue, and the University is investigating it accordingly. I have asked Campus Security to ensure that these situations do not allow the safety or security of any member of the University community to be placed at risk,” McCutcheon wrote, “While people may have different opinions on a matter, they are expected to express those opinions in a manner that respects the rights and opinions of others”.
Serena Lee – the student who fell to the ground – says the university’s response has been encouraging. “This university has so many different cultures, backgrounds,” she told Craccum. It was good of the university to “remind students [what] … we treasure in New Zealand [and that] … you cannot personally attack someone for their opinions”.
The Hong Kong protests began after the government of Hong Kong proposed the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill. The bill would make it possible for China – who were given sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997 by the United Kingdom – to request criminals facing trial in Hong Kong be extradited to the mainland. Those who oppose the bill fear that it will erode Hong Kong’s legal system, and afford China more control over their legal process than is necessary.