Anger grows over Hong Kong university sacking of activist
A prominent Hong Kong democracy activist on Wednesday vowed to appeal his sacking by a top university as city leaders and education chiefs were accused of failing to defend academic freedoms under Beijing's tightening grip.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Tai said he would appeal the university's decision and consider launching a judicial review.
He also made a personal appeal to city leader Carrie Lam, a pro-Beijing appointee.
"Though I know this is a futile process, Carrie Lam cannot evade... her responsibility of infringing Hong Kong's academic freedom," Tai wrote.
Tai is a leading figure within Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement.
A staunch non-violence advocate, he was jailed last year over his involvement in huge pro-democracy protests in 2014 that brought parts of the city to a standstill for weeks.
He is often the target of vitriolic statements from China's government.
State media has previously described him as a "hardcore troublemaker" colluding with foreign forces.
The Liaison Office, which represents Beijing's government in the semi-autonomous city, released a statement late Tuesday calling Tai "evil" and welcoming his removal.
Earlier in the month the same office accused Tai of trying to foment a "revolution".
The sacking has sent a new chill through the semi-autonomous city's campuses already rattled by Beijing imposition of a sweeping national security law last month that has begun to criminalise certain political views.
"Benny Tai has become a martyr to civil disobedience," a political science professor at HKU wrote on his Facebook page.
Sophie Richardson, a China expert with Human Rights Watch, said international universities should now reassess their relationship with HKU.
"Calling all unis with ties to @HKU and claim to uphold #academicfreedom: time to speak up about this outrage," she tweeted.
Joshua Wong, a prominent student activist who has also served jail time for leading protests wrote: "#Beijing now extends its reach to academic freedoms in #HK."
Late Tuesday it released a statement saying it had "resolved a personnel issue concerning a teaching staff member" but it did not name Tai or give any details on what the outcome was citing privacy.
HKU did not respond to media enquiries seeking further information.