Thousands of students are expected to join a five-day class boycott across tertiary institutions this afternoon to protest Beijing’s restrictions on the 2017 chief executive election.
Classes at Chinese University are being held as usual this morning. Students from 11 universities and institutions will gather at a main avenue on the Sha Tin campus to kick off the boycott after lunchtime.
Alex Chow Yong-kang, the federation’s secretary general, said today they will send a letter to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and three other officials in charge of political reform demanding a response to Hongkongers’ aspiration for “genuine” universal suffrage.
Students distributed leaflets outside secondary schools in Mong Kok this morning to call for pupils to boycott classes today to express support for the tertiary students.
Chinese University vice-chancellor, Professor Joseph Sung Jao-yiu, said earlier the school respected students’ feelings and their opinions. “This is a university and we allow an open forum for speech and expression of attitude,” he said.
Almost 400 university and non-academic staff have thrown their weight behind the student protest, signing a petition offering their “staunchest support and protection”.
More than 80 public lectures are planned, with speakers including Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun and more than 100 academics from various disciplines.
“As teachers and as citizens, we are pained and outraged to see the advancement of democracy in Hong Kong stifled and suppressed,” read the statement, which by yesterday had been signed by 382 university staff, including 297 teaching staff.
“Yet, while the students are pure of heart, they have recently become subject to unreasonable smears and attacks. We appeal to all sectors of society … do not let them stand alone to face the white terror,” it added, using a term referring to political repression.
Professor Dixon Sing Ming, of the University of Science and Technology, who is one of 32 academics who initiated the petition, said: “Every student should have freedom from fear.”
The boycott is being spearheaded by the Hong Kong Federation of Students, which represents part of the city’s 80,000-strong student population.