Media Release: Foreign influence on AUT chills free speech

30 July 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
AUT University’s cancellation of a commemoration of the Tiananmen Square Massacre betrays the freedoms of students and contradicts the purpose of a university.
 
“AUT’s claim that the cancellation of the peaceful commemorative event was due to the Queen’s Birthday Holiday is a poor excuse,” says Free Speech Coalition spokesperson Dr David Cumin.
 
“OIA requests have shown that the Chinese consulate commended the University for its decision to cancel the booking. Many AUT students will be appalled to see the university play lapdog to a foreign regime.”
 
“The participants of the Tiananmen Square protest were students peacefully protesting a violent regime. AUT dishonours their memory by silencing another protest focused on the same illiberal government.”
 
“Like all publicly-funded universities, AUT has a purpose ‘to question and test received wisdom, to put forward new ideas and to state controversial or unpopular opinions’, as per sections 161 of the Education Act 1989. Instead, AUT’s attitude towards free speech is beginning to look like that of the Chinese state. These are not New Zealand values; these are despotic values.”
 
“It is suspicious that these events are similar to the University of Auckland's cancellation of screenings of a documentary critical of the Confucius Institute after the consulate’s outcry. New Zealand university students and patrons deserve better.”
 
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