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Thousands of Hong Kong secondary and university students marked their first day of school by launching class boycotts to pressure the government to accept the anti-extradition bill protesters’ five demands.
Some students put yellow helmets, protective masks and goggles on but dressed in school uniforms rather than the iconic black outfits worn by protesters.
They had responded to a call by student groups Demosisto and Demovanile to stage class boycotts in support of the ongoing anti-extradition bill protest.
Isaac Cheng, vice-chairman of Demosisto, said around 200 secondary schools joined the class boycott on Monday. Some students staged class boycotts on campus and others joined a rally in Edinburgh Place in Central.
At Queen’s College in Causeway Bay, more than 100 students chanted slogans outside the campus, while at La Salle College in Kowloon Tong, students observed a moment of silence inside the school campus.
One Form Six student at La Salle College surnamed Yuen said discussing politics was unavoidable, Radio Television Hong Kong reported.
“That’s not about [being] politics. That’s about human rights. That’s about democracy and I don’t think that’s about politics – that’s about our lives,” Yuen said.
But riot police officers were called in and stopped and searched a number of alumni outside the school campus who had showed up to support the students.
In Chai Wan, students at three secondary schools joined hands outside campus grounds before classes began.
Eight students of St. Francis’ Canossian College in Wan Chai, which is the alma mater of the chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, were seen kneeling down in front of the school main gate to call for other students to join the boycott.
They held placards asking Lam, “The chief executive, are you willing to listen to junior fellow students voice?”
The rally in Edinburgh Place was suspended due to torrential rain in the morning, but when it stopped, around 2,000 students appeared at the rally site. Most secondary schools had a half-day on the first day.
Anger over the excessive police force used on protesters over the past three months and the Lam’s administration’s posture has intensified.
Meanwhile, a thousand of students from the Chinese University of Hong Kong held an unofficial inauguration ceremony after the university’s authorities decided on August 20 to cancel the traditional event to welcome students after the summer break.
Jacky So, the president of the CUHK student union, alleged that the authorities cancelled the official event political reasons. In fact, the university advised the student union late Sunday night to cancel Monday’s event, citing safety concerns.
At 3:30pm, students union from 10 local universities staged a mass rally at the CUHK campus to call for the chief executive to respond to the five demands. The students said they will escalate their actions if there is no response.
Organizers estimated that 30,000 people attended on Monday, compared to 13,000 in 2014 during the Umbrella Movement.The rally was similar to an event five years ago when thousands of students gathered at the same venue, leading to the 79-day Occupy Central protests for universal suffrage.