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Teachers in Hong Kong threatened with suspension for “hate speech” online

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Teachers in Hong Kong, that has seen months of sometimes violent protests, are at risk of suspension and ultimately of losing their job if they get arrested or are found to be posting “hate speech” online, Hong Kong Free Press writes.

Citing Hong Kong Education Secretary Kevin Yeung, the website explained that as many as 80 teachers had been arrested in this territory recently – apparently related to their political stance and participation in the protests. Now the authorities are looking for ways to discourage this and restrict teachers’ right to express themselves freely online.

The unrest started over a draft law, that has since been withdrawn, that would have allowed extraditions from this autonomous territory to mainland China. However, the protests have since evolved into a pro-democracy message, calling for reforms and amnesty for the many citizens who have been arrested.

Yeung revealed on Friday that complaints have been filed against a total of 123 teachers during the second part of this year, including for offenses such as “distributing hate speech,” but also for breaking the law and engaging in provocative behavior, and using inappropriate teaching materials – the last point reportedly not being related to the protests or politics.

30 of these cases have been dropped, 31 are still being looked at, while 31 are described as being preliminarily substantiated. 13 teachers have already been punished by receiving condemnation letters and warnings, and they now run the risk of having their professional registration revoked in case they once again engage in “misconduct.”

Yeung also revealed that some of the 13 teachers got in trouble for “hate speech” that they allegedly used on their personal social media accounts. The article doesn’t go into what is defined as hate speech in this context.

What’s clear is that the fact these accounts are private makes no difference to the Hong Kong authorities, who said these posts represent a teacher’s thoughts that can still reach and affect other people.

The secretary defended the policy, saying it was put in place in order to protect students from the consequences of the protests, and denied that the right of schools to suspend or sack teachers in this way represents convicting them without a trial.

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