Hong Kong protesters call student boycott, strike after weekend of violence – World

Hong Kong students made human chains in schools early Monday and protesters interrupted the trains at peak times when the city's pro-democratic movement returned to action after a weekend that brought the worst violence in three months of anti-government protests.

The global financial center is in the midst of an unprecedented crisis, as a movement largely without leaders has taken millions to the streets to protest against what they see as an erosion of freedoms and growing interference in their affairs by part of Beijing.

China, which supports the Hong Kong government, has reacted with intimidating tactics, including pressure on city businesses and well-publicized troop movements and exercises near the border.

An editorial on Sunday night Xinhua, the state news agency, warned "the end is coming" for the protest movement, without giving more details.

On Monday morning, protesters dressed in their black signature stood at the train doors, preventing them from closing, in a series of stations in the underground system, briefly interrupting an arterial network that has become the target of their activities.

Shortly after, high school students formed human chains outside several government schools before classes began.

Protesters stood at the train doors, preventing them from closing, in a series of stations in the underground system. ─ AFP

Some wore gas masks, helmets and goggles, the now essential kit worn by protesters during months of demonstrations wrapped in tear gas and clashes with the police.

In a school, the bronze statue of Sun Yat-sen, the power of Chinese political thought educated in Hong Kong, was also equipped with a gas mask and glasses.

A few dozen students risked disciplinary measures at the school to attend a rally in the city center.

"Hong Kong is our home […] we are the future of the city and we have to take responsibility for saving it, "said a 17-year-old high school student who gave her last name as Wong.

Hong Kong is a semi-autonomous city in southern China that operates under a "one country, two systems" framework, which grants rights to citizens who are not seen on the continent.

China pledged to grant the people of Hong Kong those rights in an agreement that caused the city to return from British colonial rule in 1997.

The erosion of these rights by China has been one of the driving forces of the protest movement.

Another 17-year-old student named Cheung recognized the importance of the study, but reasoned "if a city no longer has freedom, we cannot express our own opinions. […] then academic achievement is not important. "

Protesters also called for a general strike on Monday ─ although there were few immediate signs of him biting ─ while university students will demonstrate in the afternoon.

Protests began in opposition to government plans to allow extradition to the continent of people wanted by Beijing, but have expanded to include broader demands.

These include demands for the extradition bill to be formally dismissed and for an independent investigation into the alleged police brutality during the protests.

Protesters also want the city leader and all its legislators to be directly elected, eliminating the current system that greatly favors the Chinese government.

Student boycott

Monday's protest action round followed another weekend of street violence, as well as protesters' efforts to disrupt the city's airport, one of the busiest in the world.

On Sunday, at least a dozen flights were canceled after protesters blocked the routes to the airport, although police avoided protesters' efforts to converge at the terminal.

Travelers wait at the terminal of the Hong Kong International Airport after a train service connecting it to the city was canceled due to protesters in favor of democracy. ─ AFP

On Saturday, uncontrolled protesters ravaged the city center, burning and throwing gasoline bombs at riot police, defying the ban on demonstrations.

Police responded with tear gas, stick loads and water cannons with chemical dye.

Video footage captured by local media showed police charges and beat a shrunken crowd inside a train car, and Amnesty International called their actions "horrible."

The images have strengthened the anger against the police, which protesters accuse of brutality.

The universities had to resume classes on Monday after a summer break, but the students, who constitute the backbone of the protest movement, plan a two-week boycott.

Protesters also urged a general strike.

In early August, a strike throughout the city, a rare occurrence in a free-flowing financial center where unions traditionally have little influence, brought transport chaos to the city.

Hong Kong's flagship airline, Cathay Pacific, warned staff that they run the risk of being fired if they join the strike on Monday after the airline's flight attendants union supported the last strike.

Cathay has already fired at least four staff members, including two pilots, for supporting the protests.

Hong Kong's reputation as a stable place to do business has been shaken by ongoing protests.

Visitor arrivals have plummeted, hotel vacancies have skyrocketed and retailers have reported large losses, but the government has offered little in terms of concessions or suggestions on how to end them.

Source: https://www.dawn.com/news/1503125/hong-kong-protesters-call-student-boycott-strike-after-weekend-of-violence


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