Thousands of Hong Kong students are expected to take part in a week-long pro-democracy class boycott starting tomorrow.
The strike is in protest of Beijing’s conservative reform proposal for Hong Kong’s 2017 chief executive election.
Yvonne Leung, president of the Hong Kong University Students’ Union, said the level of interest in the class boycott was “above average” for a demonstration on political reform, as hundreds of HKU students gathered yesterday for a class boycott oath taking ceremony.
“There will be other civil disobedience actions to follow“, she said, as the city braces itself for a series of “occupation” protests organised by Occupy Central.
She expects at least 1000 to take part at HKU, whilst over 2000 are predicted to participate at City University.
Some students, such as undergraduate student Claire Leung, pledged only to boycott non-compulsory classes…
Recently, HKU’s student union increased its efforts to reach out to international students.
“Their participation can lead to [increased] media attention from foreign countries and this will help the democratisation of Hong Kong… we are sharing the same universal values”, said Yvonne Leung. Joshua Wong of the ‘Scholarism’ student movement has also called for secondary school pupils to strike.
320 university teachers and staff have signed a petition supporting the student strike. At least 108 professors will be hosting open lectures on subjects such as civil disobedience, politics, law and history next week.
In an emailed statement, the University of Hong Kong said on Tuesday that it upheld personal freedom of speech, expression, assembly and association for all HKU members. “Teaching and learning activities at HKU would be held as usual”, a spokesperson said.
Most universities in Hong Kong have said they will not punish those who take part.
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, the Secretary for Education Eddie Ng and the Education Bureau itself have all separately voiced opposition to the strike this month. Lam is set to go on leave during the strike.
On Wednesday, Executive Council member Arthur Li Kwok-cheung said the class boycott was not constructive. Comparing students to the Cultural Revolution’s Red Guard, Li said students should make a bigger sacrifice and give up their education altogether.