Canberra, 18 November 2019: The escalating violence in Hong Kong relating to the pro-democracy movement is a cause for concern for library colleagues in the territory, and especially for LIS students, teachers and library staff on university campuses.
ALIA has been contacted by a local academic librarian, ‘I am writing to share how much this disastrous situation has impacted universities and academic libraries throughout Hong Kong.’ Their letter includes photographs of clashes between protesters and riot police and the use of tear gas around library buildings at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, City University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Baptist University. ‘Although all staff and students have already left the library during that time, the remaining hazardous materials will stay on the walls and air and affect library users after the library has been resumed.’
Over the weekend, the ABC reported that Australian university students on exchange in Hong Kong had been called back to Australia (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-11-15/hong-kong-protest-australian-students-told-to-return/11709478).
Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne has said, ‘We are deeply concerned by the violence in Hong Kong and the increasing divide between the authorities and Hong Kong people. We reiterate our view that it is crucial for all sides – police and protestors – to exercise restraint and take genuine steps to de-escalate tensions. It is essential that the police respond proportionately to protests.
‘Australia continues to urge genuine efforts by all parties to find an effective political solution that supports and upholds Hong Kong’s freedoms and advantages, an open and accountable law enforcement and the professional and unbiased application of justice.’
ALIA President Robert Knight made this statement: ‘ALIA has members working in university, special and public libraries in Hong Kong. We are monitoring the situation and hoping for a peaceful resolution to the current unrest. Our thoughts are with ALIA members and library colleagues caught up in the protests.’