23 February 2019
Posters urging students to join the class boycott campaign on display at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Photo: Reuters
Posters urging students to join the class boycott campaign on display at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Photo: Reuters

Student groups begin class boycott in democracy fight

Students from 24 colleges and universities in Hong Kong have begun a five-day class boycott from Monday, stepping up the pressure in the pro-democracy fight and sending a message to Beijing.

With some teachers and alumni groups supporting the campaign, students are skipping classes for the week to signal their discontent over the framework for the 2017 chief executive election and the denial of true universal suffrage.

Students, including those from Lingnan University, the University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the City University of Hong Kong, will gather at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. They will hold oath-taking ceremonies at their institutions before taking buses to the Chinese University, Ming Pao Daily reported.

The Hong Kong Baptist University Students’ Union estimated that 500 students from the university will join in class boycott, about the same number expected by class boycott committee of the City University of Hong Kong.

A statement jointly issued by nearly 400 teachers on Sunday has called on colleagues to be lenient in dealing with class absentees and to refrain from conducting important exams during the boycott period. Teachers were also urged to assist the students to catch up with school work later.

Ivan Choy, a senior lecturer at the Chinese University who organized the statement, said the campaign has the same significance as the May Fourth Movement in 1919, when students in Beijing boycotted classes to protest the Chinese government’s weak response to the Treaty of Versailles.

Meanwhile, a convention launched by pro-Beijing groups such as Defend Hong Kong Campaign and Virtue Dynamics has attracted nearly 100 people at an open square near the government headquarters in Admiralty.

Basic Law Committee Member Lau Nai-keung said at the gathering that some foreign powers could be influencing the class boycott. Legislator Priscilla Leung Mei-fun said the Occupy Central organizers and the pan-democratic leaders do not understand Beijing’s thinking. Their actions will not be in people’s interests, she said.

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