A law professor and a leading figure in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, he was fired from his university position less than a month after Beijing passed a new law on national security in the semi-autonomous country.
Benny Ty, an associate professor of law at the University of Hong Kong, was fired 18-2 votes by the university’s governing board, according to the South China Morning Post.
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The decision was to overturn a previous decision by the university’s senate, which said there were not enough grounds to demand Ty’s release, according to Reuters.
Ty, who was not present at the meeting, responded to his removal on social media.
“This marks the end of academic freedom in Hong Kong,”; Ty said on Facebook. “Academic institutions in Hong Kong cannot protect their members from internal and external interference.”
Ty was released on bail after being sentenced to 16 months in prison in April 2019, when one of the nine leaders was tried for his participation in the 2014 universal suffrage vote, known as the Umbrella Movement. .
Although the movement failed in an attempt to expand democracy in the semi-autonomous Chinese city, protests returned last year after local government proposed legislation to extradite criminals suspected in a criminal case in China.
Increasingly violent pro-democracy protests prompted the Chinese legislature to pass a national security law in June.
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Critics have called the law part of a major struggle against political activity, freedom of speech and academic independence, prompting a well-known opposition group to disband. Some books have been confiscated from libraries due to concerns that they have violated legal restrictions on calls for greater city autonomy of 7.5 million.
A Chinese central government liaison officer in Hong Kong issued a statement praising Tai’s removal. It said the shooting marked “punishment for crime and upholding justice” and “supporting Hong Kong’s common interests, meeting public expectations and guaranteeing social justice.”
Ty remained optimistic in his Facebook post, writing that he plans to continue lecturing on legal issues, and asked for public support.
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“If we continue to persevere, one day we will see a resurgence of the rule of law in Hong Kong,” Ty wrote.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.