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AAA Calls For Academic/Intellectual Freedom In Hong Kong

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November 29, 2019

AAA Calls For Academic/Intellectual Freedom In Hong Kong

Voters in Hong Kong took to the polls in record numbers Sunday to cast ballots in the only fully democratic election in the Chinese territory, an early sign that they wanted to send a strong message regarding the political direction of the city. The stunning gains scored by the pro-democracy parties in the Hong Kong district council elections did just that.

As part of our commitment to academic freedom, the American Anthropological Association calls on the Hong Kong government and the Communist Party in Beijing to adhere to that message and respect the rights and privileges of the people of Hong Kong as set forth in the 1997-2047 hand over agreement between the UK and China. Specifically, we are alarmed at the escalating violence taking place at the universities, and are concerned about the physical and emotional welfare of faculty, students, scientists, and administrators.  We support the protection of academic freedom in all of Hong Kong’s institutions of higher learning. This freedom includes the ability to travel and return, publication, uncensored classroom teaching, open and civil discourse, reporting, and an end to all forms of political and social harassment.   As anthropologists, we advocate for observing, listening, and learning across multiple perspectives and viewpoints, but against reactionary fear, intimidation, and violence.      

When Britain handed Hong Kong back to China, the Chinese government pledged that the city would have a “high degree of autonomy” in its legal and economic affairs for 50 years, under an arrangement known as “one country, two systems.” However, the recent use of excessive force to quash the protests, with police now using live ammunition, suggests otherwise.

The continued erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy places its well-established reputation as a place of academic freedom at risk. The clamp-down on its university campuses must stop, along with the arrests of young students and others demonstrating peacefully. The AAA rejects the use of violence to achieve any political, economic or social outcomes and calls for a return to order by the entire Hong Kong community.



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