Tensions broke out in the 5th Week Student Council meeting when a motion supporting the Hong Kong riots was proposed and passed. Oriel College’s Martin Yip proposed the motion to mandate the Oxford SU President to publish an open letter supporting “Hong Kong’s fight for freedom and condemning police brutality”. The motion was seconded by Green Templeton College’s Alexander Yen.
In his proposition speech Yip declared, “Over the last few months, the Hong Kong police have used excessive force on multiple occasions. This amounts to disproportionate, political violence by a state organ which I believe should be condemned.
“I believe that Oxford, as a modern, progressive institution, treasures and upholds the values of liberty and democracy. Furthermore, the Oxford SU has a record of supporting those with disadvantages or those whose voices aren’t often heard.
“For these reasons, I am asking Oxford SU to take a stance on Hong Kong, to assert firmly that police brutality should be condemned.”
When Yip went on to mention allegations that a student protestor had already died as a result of police brutality, laughter was heard in the room.
Opposers of the motion counterclaimed that it was the protestors that are being violent. University College’s Shining Zhao stated, ‘What’s happening in Hong Kong is not that simple. People are trying to attack the government… causing huge disorder.
“The police did not abuse their power and we don’t have enough information to know all the facts”
In a comment to The Oxford Student, Zhao clarified, “When I’m saying about police, I’m not saying that every single police 100% did not overuse their power. Though there might be problematic individual police, I’m defending that the police system as a whole did not abuse their power, and they should not be the one condemned.”
The motion passed 85% to 15%- indicating that five of the student council members present had opposed the motion. It is reported that an estimated 25 opposers of the motion were unable to vote as they were not members of the student council, and swiftly left once the motion had passed.
The incident comes after nationwide concerns for the safety of protesting Hong Kong students around the UK. Hong Kong activists are linking counter-demonstrations to UK-based Chinese student organisations supported by the Chinese government.
Image Credit: Reuters