SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: September 20, 2021

Attack Types: Imprisonment | Prosecution

Institution(s):Hong Kong Baptist University | Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Region & Country:Eastern Asia | Hong Kong 

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On September 20 and 22, 2021, Hong Kong police arrested four members of a student organization under the National Security Law in connection with their activism.

Wong Yat-chin, Chan Chi-sum, Chu Wai-ying, and Wong Yuen-lam held leading roles in the pro-democracy group known as Student Politicism. Police arrested the students under Hong Kong’s National Security Law, on a charge of “conspiracy to incite subversion of state power.” Police accused them of allegedly seeking to recruit “like-minded people” in prison, telling the public to not use the government’s COVID-19 tracking application, and inciting hate against the government over social media and in public.

As of this report, one student, Chu Wai-ying, is free on bail while her co-defendants remain in custody.

Scholars at Risk is concerned by the arrest and prosecution of students in connection with the nonviolent exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association — conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Hong Kong is a party. State authorities are obligated to refrain from restricting or retaliating against the nonviolent exercise of such rights. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, arrests and prosecutions intended to restrict or retaliate against student expression undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.