Thousands of secondary students support school boycott as pro-democracy group Demosisto calls on them to skip Monday classes weekly over protest demands

17-Aug-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

At least thousands of secondary school students are set to boycott classes every Monday starting from September 2 if the Hong Kong government refuses to withdraw the now-shelved extradition bill, according to an online opinion poll.

The survey was conducted by two student concern bodies and pro-democracy group Demosisto, co-founded by political activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung. The group earlier called for a general boycott, following two months of civil unrest sparked by the hated legislation, which Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has declared “dead” but not withdrawn completely.

On Friday Demosisto vice-chair Isaac Cheng Ka-long said: “Based on the poll results, we will call for students to boycott classes every Monday, for an indefinite period of time.”

The poll involved 19,473 secondary school students, mostly between Form Four and Six from more than 350 schools, over four days.

 (South China Morning Post)

(South China Morning Post)

Some 89 per cent of respondents said they supported the boycott to force the government into fulfilling protesters’ demands, including an official withdrawal of the bill, and the appointment of an independent inquiry into police handling of the protests.

Of those who supported the action, 46 per cent said the boycott should last indefinitely, 28 per cent said it should span a week, a day or a month, while 24 per cent supported skipping classes for a day each week.

On why Demosisto did not decide on an all-out indefinite snub supported by most respondents Cheng said: “We’ve never had the experience of students boycotting classes every day, and the social atmosphere has not reached that level yet.

“So we are calling students to boycott school every Monday first, and then we will keep gauging their views… We will not rule out escalating by adding more days.”

We are calling students to boycott school every Monday first, and then we will keep gauging their views… We will not rule out escalating by adding more days

Isaac Cheng, Demosisto

In the survey, when asked how they would support the boycott, 49 per cent of respondents said they would join the action, 31 per cent were still willing to attend classes but wear accessories such as ribbons or badges to make a statement, while the remainder said they would support demonstrations after school.

On when the boycott should kick off, 58 per cent said it should start on September 2, the first day of school.

On what should be done in place of attending classes, 80 per cent were in favour of hosting rallies, either on campus or in public playgrounds and parks, while 20 per cent said a march should be organised.

Cheng noted that students in different schools would be setting up committees to prepare for the boycotts. “We need support from students, parents, alumni, and we will also lobby teachers and schools to back us.

“We will help students, parents and alumni from different schools link up with each other… We will also provide administrative support for the preparatory committees.”

In an article published on the Education Bureau’s website on Thursday, Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung said after the recent clashes in society, it would be challenging to protect students and “safeguard the quiet environment in schools”. But Yeung stopped short of mentioning the boycott plans.

Demosisto had also called for school boycotts on June 12 and June 17, shortly before and after Lam suspended the bill on June 15. But it was unclear how many students took part at that time.

In the 2018-19 school year, there were 325,498 students across 506 secondary schools.

The extradition bill would have allowed the transfer of fugitives to jurisdictions with which Hong Kong has no such agreement, including mainland China, where critics say fair trials are not guaranteed.

Last week, the bill was still listed on the government’s published gazette, sparking cries by protesters that authorities were determined to revive it.

A government spokesman reiterated on Friday that the gazette concerned only listed bills that were introduced at the Legislative Council for a first debate this year. “The government has clearly indicated on many occasions that all legislative work in relation to the amendment of the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance has completely stopped,” he added.



Category: Hong Kong

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