Hong Kong: CUHK's prohibition of displaying Statue of the Goddess of Democracy in campus

2010-06-03 - damon
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Goddess of Democracy

The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises maintain their neutrality
----- Petition against the Chinese University of Hong Kong's prohibition of displaying Statue of the Goddess of Democracy in campus

The CUHK issued a public letter to announce that the student union’s application to display a statue of the Goddess of Democracy and related items in the CUHK campus was rejected, by the reason of “political neutrality”. We are enraged!

Displaying the statue is the way to demonstrate freedom of expression

According to its public letter, the university maintained that “it is the duty of the University to respect and defend the freedom of all members of the University to express different opinions and to hold different positions”. Anyone with rationality can immediate rebut this disposition: How on earth can the member of the university be restricted to express their opinion by a display of the statue of Goddess of Democracy? Is the university suggesting that the statue is a magic token with power to prohibit the students and teachers of the university to discuss on issues about the 1989 democracy movement? It is obvious that the statue cannot hinder discussion, it promotes discussion. The true restriction of freedom of expression is placed by the university, not a statue.

It is well known that 1989 democracy movement is consider politically sensitive and is prohibited from mentioning in the mainland China. People cannot publicly discuss it, and its information is not allowed. In the recent years various democracy activists have been restricted from entering Hong Kong. Recently, the police have seized the statue of Goddess of Democracy while it was on display in Time Square, Causeway Bay, alleged its contravention to the “Place of Public Entertainment Ordinance”, a group of activist from the Alliance were arrested. These incidents show that the government has come to use false accusation to shut down channels of 1989 democracy movement related art works. Displaying the statue in the CUHK campus is the best way to “defend the freedom of all members of the University to express different opinions and to hold different positions”, from the political repression of the government.

The fussy logic and double standard of political neutrality

The university claimed it should to “re-affirm the principle of political neutrality” in the public letter. If this meant that the university shall not restrict teaching, research or expression by reason of political affiliation, we would have applauded. However, it was the university’s claim that dissident voice would limit the freedom of others and should be prohibited. The fundamental value of the freedom of expression is the protection of the dissent. The university is reversing right and wrong to repress dissident voice on the claim of freedom of expression.

The political stance of the CUHK should not be concealed by its claim of political neutrality. After Prof. Laurence Lau came to the position of Vice Chancellor, the university has awarded honorary Doctors to Tung Chee-haw and Henry Tang Ying Yen, infamous high officials of the Hong Kong government. Lau himself was appointed member of Nation PCC by the mainland China, and member of Executive Council by the Hong Kong government. The university was praising the regime and rejecting dissident voice with the claim of political neutrality at the same time. Such double standard show clearly that has submitted itself to the regime of mainland China.

The “Harmonious Society” of CUHK is not far away

To adulate the official stance of the mainland China regime, the university has unveiled its crude repression without pretense of being rational or logical to restrict the display of the statue of Goddess of Democracy in the campus. Even worse, it was stated in its public letter that “the University should not align itself with actions or activities which project a political position that would compromise the University's principle of political neutrality”, which would mean that any campus activity reflecting a political position will be subject to the repression of the university. This is equivalent to bury the spirit and virtue of a university, and abandonment of academic freedom. The “harmonious society” is only one step away.

Doubtlessly, "the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crisis maintain their neutrality". It is not only applicable for the high officials of the university headed by Prof. Laurence Lau; people caring for the CUHK, and those who embracing university autonomy, freedom of expression and truth should act now. Facing these perverse university high officials who betray freedom of expression, a basic virtue of a university, disgracing victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre and the arrested activists, we have no reason to remain silence. There’s no place for a being peaceful!

We demand:

1. All members of the university’s Administrative and Planning Committee to apologize publicly;

2. Endorsement of the student union’s application to display the statue of Goddess of Democracy, with no restriction on time and place;

3. The high officials to hold a public forum and give a clear account on the alleged principal of “political neutrality”, and the university’s stance on the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Originated by:

The Chinese University of Hong Kong Student Union
CU Student Press, the Chinese University of Hong Kong Student Union
Laurance Lau Monitor

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