Hong Kong High School Students Hold Rally, Keeping up Momentum of Extradition Bill Protests

By Jeremy Sandberg

HONG KONG—High school students gathered for a rally on Aug. 22 to protest the government’s response to the extradition bill crisis and call for international support.

The crowd chanted “Hong Kong stay strong, the revolution of our times,” as protests entered their 11th consecutive week, stemming from opposition to an extradition bill that would allow the Chinese regime to transfer individuals for trial in mainland China. The proposal drew widespread fears that given China’s disregard for rule of law, critics of the Chinese regime would be punished with impunity.

Wayne Chan, convener of the student group, Students Independence Union, believed that losing the fight for Hong Kong’s freedom would not be an option.

“There are lots of youngsters, teenagers coming out because this is about our future,” said Chan. “We don’t want to be in jail in China and it is for our next generation.”

Chan said he hoped democracies around the world could voice their support for the protests.

“I really really hope the whole world will stand with Hong Kong,” he said. “Because we are in the front line fighting the Chinese Communist Party, the communist party, the evil party.”

Five Demands

The students share a common goal with protesters who have taken to the streets in recent months, who demand that the bill be fully withdrawn; authorities to retract their previous characterization of protesters as rioters; arrested protesters to be exonerated; an independent inquiry into police use of force to be established; and for open, direct elections.

Hong Kong’s top official, Chief Executive Carrie Lam has consistently refused to withdraw the bill, though she suspended it in mid-June amid public pressure. She also said an internal police watchdog would be sufficient to conduct a “fact-finding study” on police-protester clashes. Local rights groups have countered that the watchdog agency would not be able to give an impartial judgment because it only investigates complaints that the police force forwards to the agency.

“What we want is our freedom,” said Adam, a student protester. “It’s going to affect our future so we’re just trying to stand out and find what we want.”

Jeremy Tam, lawmaker from Hong Kong’s Civic Party, said that the future of Hong Kong is in the student generation; it is up to them to discover creative solutions to modify the current political system for the better.

“It’s important for them to see what’s the problem of Hong Kong society, not just the present tense or anything pre extradition bill,” said Tam. “Because obviously the structure or the system of Hong Kong is certainly falling apart. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have what we had today.”

Student Protests

Many students have committed not to return to school until all five demands are met.

Miss Chung, a protester, said that although she is no longer a student, it is important to support them.

“I would like to see a really democratic Hong Kong,” said Chung. “Really have democracy and we can vote for what we want, not only freedom.” Currently, candidates for the chief executive are vetted by Beijing and voted in by an electoral committee made up of mostly pro-Beijing elites.