HK protests: student leaders say they were victims of death threats for supporting demonstrators

19-Aug-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Student leaders have revealed they received death threats and had their personal information exposed after helping their peers protest against the Hong Kong government.

Threats were directed at three student union representatives, it was disclosed at a press conference on Friday, with the culprits vowing to kill family members of one victim, and also publicly displaying posters detailing their private data.

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Leung Siu-yuk, external vice-president of Baptist University’s student union, fought back tears when she talked about how she and her family had been targeted.

Leung said she had received a sinister message from a stranger on Facebook on Wednesday asking her to think twice before supporting further protests, after unions had offered legal and financial assistance to those requiring it.

“If you do not understand this, I can look for [the names of her parents and sister] to have a chat,” a Facebook user named Luck Lee wrote.

Since the eruption of the movement against the now-abandoned extradition bill, there have been several incidents of police officers and activists having their personal information maliciously released into the public domain.

In mid-June, Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu also revealed the private data of more than 400 officers and 100 of their family members had been published on the internet, a practice known as “doxxing”.

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By Wednesday, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data said it had received 557 complaints, among which 402 cases, or 72 per cent, involved police officers or those close to them.

A day after the Facebook encounter, Leung was notified that posters bearing her photo and revealing her home address and full name appeared in the neighbourhood, threatening her with curses.

Leung felt the threats related to the legal and financial assistance that student unions had provided to protesters campaigning against the bill, which would have allowed the transfer of criminal suspects to jurisdictions the city does not have an extradition agreement with, including mainland China.

“We are just unarmed ordinary students … the threats wanted us to shut up and stop supporting the movement,” she said.

We are just unarmed ordinary students … the threats wanted us to shut up and stop supporting the movement

Leung Siu-yuk, external vice-president of Baptist University’s student union

“Although I’m terrified, I know what I have been doing is right. I will not choose to silence myself because of these [threats].”

Leung Yiu-ting, acting president of Education University’s student union, said similar posters exposing his details appeared near his home on a public housing estate on Thursday morning.

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“This morning, some strangers came to my home and asked my family if I was living there,” he said. “Even something happens, we will not succumb to threats and white terror.”

Pang Ka-ho, acting chair of the current affairs committee at the University of Hong Kong’s student union council, said he has been messaged on the Telegram app over the past few days, threatening his family would be killed if he continued to cause trouble.

Pang said his family had received a threatening phone call on Thursday night.

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Pang suspected representatives from student unions were threatened because they were easier targets in a leaderless movement, but he added he did not know who was responsible.

“Our family members have been under huge pressure because of the threats,” Pang said. “We hope police can investigate these issues in a fair and just way.”

He said the incidents had been reported to police and he had already given a statement. Leung Siu-yuk and Leung Yiu-ting said they would consider reporting the threats they had received.

Also speaking at the press conference was Baptist University student union president Keith Fong Chung-yin, whose arrest drew more than 300 people to besiege Sham Shui Po Police Station on August 6. They were dispersed when police fired tear gas.

Fong urged the force to explain why an undercover officer had grabbed his neck when arresting him and called for the policeman to apologise.

The student union leader was arrested on suspicion of possessing offensive weapons, which officers identified as 10 laser pointers he had bought in Sham Shui Po.

He said the laser pens were “for stargazing” and other purposes such as teaching aids, adding he would reserve his right to take legal action against the officers involved in his arrest.

Asked at the force’s media briefing on Friday whether police would apologise to Fong for his treatment during arrest, acting Chief Superintendent Yeung Man-pun, Kowloon City district commander, said he did not have any information to offer in response.

While laser pointers were not prohibited in the city, police said under Hong Kong law the devices could be deemed “weapons” if they were used in, or intended for use, in an attack.

Meanwhile, Baptist University has announced its decision to cancel its convocation, which celebrates the beginning of the academic year and was scheduled for September 3.

Director of student affairs Gordon Tang said the decision was made “after taking all relevant factors into account”, in an email on Friday night that did not elaborate further.


Category: Hong Kong

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