21 February 2019
Young students do their homework while attending the sit-in protest. Photo: HKEJ
Young students do their homework while attending the sit-in protest. Photo: HKEJ

Academic: Protesters younger but not aggressive

Most of the protesters in the ongoing pro-democracy demonstration in Hong Kong are young people, showing that the younger generation is becoming active in politics, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported Friday.

The civil disobedience movement is reminiscent of the 1989 Tiananmen protests and the July 1, 2003 march against an anti-subversion bill, the report said, citing Ma Ngok, an associate professor in government and public administration in the Chinese University of Hong Kong

A growing number of younger people are getting politically involved but their movement is peaceful and not aggressive.

He called the ongoing sit-in protest “a good example of how peaceful they are”.

Ma said the Hong Kong sit-in comes in stark contrast to a protest by Mexican students over the weekend which saw more than 30 casualties and 50 demonstrators missing after police fired at the the unruly crowds.

In Hong Kong, where protests have always been peaceful, the use of tear gas and pepper spray by the police overnight Sunday was excessive, he said. 

The police had not used tear gas since 2005 when they clashed with Korean farmers during the World Trade Organization meeting.

Some of the student protesters are joining a demonstration for the first time, the report said.

A high school student said she lied to her parents about attending the protest but added she is being careful not to be at the forefront.

“But I want to be there and show my support,” she said.

Another student, who gave her name only as Sophia, said she was not interested in politics until the police used tear gas on the protesters. 

Ma said the class boycott, which preceded the civil disobedience campaign by Occupy Central, had a big impact on the political awakening of young adults.

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