U of T’s Hong Kong Police Force job posting draws student backlash, calls for removal

Pro-Hong Kong democracy activists point to HKPF’s “disregard for human rights,” “egregious use of violence”
Pro-Hong Kong democracy activists at Queen’s Park last fall.
HANNAH CARTY/THE VARSITY
Pro-Hong Kong democracy activists at Queen’s Park last fall. HANNAH CARTY/THE VARSITY

Students from the U of T Hong Kong Extradition Law Awareness Group (UTHKELAG) are requesting the removal of a university job posting with the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF), citing the police force’s record of aggressive tactics.

The HKPF posted a job under the title of “Police Inspector” on U of T’s Career and Co-Curricular Learning Network, under “off-campus jobs.” The permanent, full-time job has 50 positions available. The job description reads, “Police Inspectors are the unit commanders of Hong Kong Police Force who manage and supervise a team of police officers.” 

The HKPF job posting as advertised on the U of T Career & Co-Curricular Learning Network.

The HKPF has demonstrated a pattern of police brutality and wrongful arrest of protesters. These practices have reportedly intensified since June 2019, when a controversial bill allowing for extradition from Hong Kong to mainland China was proposed. During the months that followed, there were several clashes between protesters and police, some taking place at Hong Kong’s universities. The protests even found their way to U of T.

The UTHKELAG, which has been involved in pro-Hong Kong democracy activism since its founding last June, posted about the listing on Facebook and publicly asked for it to be taken down. “Given the HKPF’s disregard for human rights and its egregious use of violence against Hong Kong residents, we are appalled to see this posting on our University’s career website,” the organization wrote. 

It appears that the HKPF is targeting universities as part of a global recruitment effort. Several other Canadian universities, including McMaster University and the University of British Columbia, have also published the posting. After a pro-Hong Kong democracy student group at McMaster asked the university to take down the listing, the university complied and removed it. 

In a statement to The Varsity, a U of T spokesperson wrote that any employer may post a listing on the Career and Co-Curricular Learning Network as long as it does not violate federal and provincial laws. They added, “At the same time, we encourage all students to look at their own interests and values as they make career decisions about which positions to pursue.” 

“I feel that as a university, UofT must respect human rights and justice and thus it should not support the HK police’s recruitment efforts in any form whatsoever,” wrote Hogan Lam, a U of T student and organizer with the UTHKELAG, to The Varsity. He expressed that U of T is not to blame for the listing, but the university should not be giving a platform to “an organization that has no regard for human rights or basic decency.”

Lam and the UTKHELAG reached out to Student Life to ask for the posting to be taken down, and they received a response that the listing was in accordance with U of T policies. 

On May 18, 14 Hong Kong student groups and 19 Hong Kong groups across Canada signed an open letter to Canadian universities asking them to cease support of the HKPF’s recruitment efforts. The letter addressed U of T and the University British Columbia directly, asking them to reconsider their original rejection of student requests to take down the listing.

At the time of publication, the job posting remains active.

Editor’s Note (May 19, 6:05 pm): This article has been updated to report on an open letter addressing U of T from Hong Kong advocacy groups across Canada.

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