Dozens of students stood in protest on the Union courtyard this afternoon in solidarity with the pro-democracy protests currently taking place in Hong Kong.
The action started at 1pm and coincided with China’s national day, and saw a crowd of students stand in line holding umbrellas and displaying large banners.
Pro-democracy protests have been taking place in Hong Kong for a number of weeks. The protests and Occupy movements were sparked by the Beijing government renegading on a promise to grant open elections in 2017.
The protests have also drawn added controversy for the brutal response by the Hong Kong police.
Krill Kwee, one of the organisers of the Leeds-based protest and a third year Law student, spoke to The Gryphon: “Our first big reason is that we are showing our stance against the brutal government crackdown over our protesters in Hong Kong.
“Those protestors are armless, defenceless and most of them are just students. They have been brutally oppressed, with the police using excessive force like tear gas, pepper spray and even rubber bullets.”
He added: “Our second reason is to show solidarity with out students’ cause for true democracy in Hong Kong. we have 7 million citizens in Hong Kong, but only 1,200 people, called the ‘privileged class’, have the vote to elect the chief executive.”
“We are seeking a genial reform to change this system, however the Chinese authorities in late August set a framework, saying that Hong Kong citizens could not vote for the chief executive directly, and candidates have to be screened by a chief committee before we get a vote to elect our leaders.”
“This is the illusion of choice, to give the candidate a false legitimacy.”
A second year Law student, who wishes to remain anonymous, attended the rally as a silent protestor, and described a personal connection to the cause, describing how one of his friends was hit for his participation in the Hong Kong protests: “We Hong Kong students are here for our friends back there. We are fighting for democracy, but the violence has triggered the anger which made us all come out to this event.”
He also spoke about how another of his friends was fined for taking part in the pro-democracy movement.
Union Affairs Officer Bradley Escorcio described his reasons for attending the protest: “We supported their reasons for the protests, so we came down to join them as well.”
Welfare Officer Freya Govus added: “Democracy is really important to us as a value, as a team. We really believe in democracy and exercising the right to vote as one of our core values.”