By Brittany Haines, October 9 2014 —
Hong Kong is in the midst of city-wide student protests.
Police have used tear-gas and riot-control techniques to quell protesters angry that the central government will now select which candidates can run for office. Students on campuses across North America, including the University of Calgary, have taken notice of what Hong Kong University students (HKU) are up to.
Members of the U of C’s Hong Kong Students’ Association (HKSA) joined a demonstration at Olympic Plaza last Wednesday to bring attention to the protests.
HKSA member Jesse Tong said many people with close associations in Hong Kong expect clubs such as HKSA and the Chinese Students’ Association to demonstrate on campus. However, he doesn’t believe Campus Security or administration would allow demonstrations because of how controversial the issue is.
“Our friends and family are in Hong Kong, and we want to show our support for the protest, but being on the other side of the world makes it very hard,” Tong said.
Despite this, HKSA are staying neutral. Tong said they’re more of a social club than a political club.
“We have many members who have family and friends and colleagues in Hong Kong. We just want to present what is happening on a neutral stance,” Tong said.
An anonymous woman sat outside the Biological Sciences building on Monday, Sept. 29 wearing a Guy Fawkes mask with a sign that read “Hong Kong you are not alone.”
“Don’t be afraid, fear is what stops us. It only takes one person to make a difference,” she said.
Students in Hong Kong are still protesting amidst the police crackdown. Before September 28, tear gas hadn’t been used in Hong Kong in over a decade.
The BBC reported that these demonstrations are as big as the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 when tens of thousands of people occupied Beijing’s central square.
HKU student Christine Cheng said pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong often stem from student movements.
“I don’t think Hong Kong people are willing to bleed for democracy,” Cheng said. “I think students are used as catalysts just like what happened in Tiananmen massacre.”
No organized demonstrations are planned at the U of C.
China is one of the top-five countries the U of C recruits international students from.