Canadian Association of University Teachers condemns firing of Hong Kong University law prof Benny Tai Yiu-ting

One of Canada’s most vocal groups in defending academic freedom has raised its voice on behalf of an academic on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

Earlier this week, the University of Hong Kong’s governing council fired associate law professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting.

According to the South China Morning Post, it came in response to the 56-year-old Tai being sentenced to 16 months for his role in the 2014 Umbrella Movement.

Tai, a founder of the civil-disobedience movement, is appealing his convictions for public nuisance.

The Canadian Association of University Teachers has condemned the university’s decision to dismiss the pro-democracy activist.

“The firing of Professor Tai is another signal that academic freedom and civil liberties are under threat from the Chinese government,” CAUT executive director David Robinson said in a statement. “It sends a clear and chilling message not only to academics in Hong Kong, but to all of those pressing for democratic reforms and respect for human rights.”

CAUT was founded in 1951 and represents 72,000 teachers, librarians, researchers, and other staff at about 125 universities and colleges across Canada.

Tai has tweeted that he will not stop his research and teaching on the rule of law.

He’s launched a Patreon campaign to encourage people to become patrons.

Supporters can become patrons for $10 per month, which ensure they’ll “receive the latest information on my work on the research and teaching of the rule of law”.

Those who give $25 per month will also “receive an invitation to attend my seminar or workshop on the rule of law”.

And those who donate $50 per month will receive “Patron-only Q&As concerning the ways to bring the rebirth of Hong Kong’s rule of law”.

“I plan to use one to two years to complete a book on the rule of law for the general audience,” he stated on his page. “I will also promote the rule of law education in the community of Hong Kong.

“To be sure, I will continue my fight for the rebirth of Hong Kong’s rule of law,” Tai continued. “To do all these works, I need your support. If we do not give up, we will see the day of the rebirth of Hong Kong’s rule of law.”

Hong Kong postpones Legislative Council elections 

In other Hong Kong news, U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo has issued a statement in response to the government’s decision to delay elections scheduled for September 6.

The Hong Kong government has cited “virus concerns” in delaying the vote for a year.

Pompeo claimed that it’s likely that Hong Kong will never be able to vote again for anything or anyone.

“This regrettable action confirms that Beijing has no intention of upholding the commitments it made to the Hong Kong people and the United Kingdom under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a UN-registered treaty, and the Basic Law,” Pompeo said.

He added that Hong Kong people have “repeatedly demonstrated their desire and ability to hold free and fair elections”.

“We urge Hong Kong authorities to reconsider their decision,” Pompeo stated. “The elections should be held as close to the September 6 date as possible and in a manner that reflects the will and aspirations of the Hong Kong people.

“If they aren’t, then regrettable Hong Kong will continue its march toward becoming just another Communist-run city in China.”

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