Night of violence on CUHK campus becomes watershed moment in protest history

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Police charged onto the campus of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) on Tuesday, leading to the closures of university campuses and a night few will forget.

Photo: Mass rally at CUHK 20190902 by Wpcpey.

Violence has reigned over Hong Kong for four days in a row, with the chaos seemingly far from over. Hong Kong sits in shambles after its fourth concurrent day of protests, which have been notably marked by brick-riddled roads and clashes in the streets. Shockingly, however, was the long night of violence between students and riot police on the campus of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), an incident that has shaken the city to its core.

On Tuesday morning student protesters disrupted traffic by throwing items onto a highway near the entrance of the university, prompting riot police to charge onto school grounds and begin what would later devolve into one of the most harrowing evenings witnessed thus far in Hong Kong’s five months of protests. Police reported that they made 142 arrests, while 400 petrol bombs and 1,567 rounds of tear gas were fired. A water cannon was deployed at the scene as well. Many described the footage taken from the CUHK battles between students and police as a “war-zone”, likening the imagery to the 1989 massacre of Tiananmen Square.

Pro-democracy legislator Claudia Mo spoke at LegCo yesterday with an urgency directly proportionate to the situation at hand. More than 2,300 cartridges were collected at the scene, she exclaimed, criticising police for “practically invad[ing]” the school campus and displaying behaviour that she described as “trigger-happy”.

“I want to apply for a transfer back to Canada,” a Canadian-Hongkonger student of CUHK shared with Harbour Times. She has followed the news and supports the protesters, but even watching the livestream became too much to bear. I hate that I can’t handle watching what’s going on outside… I wish I was stronger.”

An official announcement of the suspension of classes for the rest of the semester on HKU’s Facebook page.

Since the incident, a number of schools have temporarily cancelled classes, while universities such as CUHK and HKU announced the suspension of on-campus lectures. The remaining classes will be transferred online in order to allow students to complete their courses for the semester.  

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