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Hong Kong Students Discuss Class Boycott


Pro-democracy activists clash with the police during a protest outside the hotel where China's National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee Deputy General Secretary Li Fei is staying, in Hong Kong, Sept. 1, 2014.

Pro-democracy activists clash with the police during a protest outside the hotel where China's National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee Deputy General Secretary Li Fei is staying, in Hong Kong, Sept. 1, 2014.

After Beijing announced election rules for Hong Kong this week, activists in the former British colony said they will stage rallies in opposition.

And adults are not the only ones considering action. A group of middle school students is discussing a boycott of classes to protest Beijing’s decision and fight for democracy.

The effort is being led by a group called Scholarism, which was established three years ago by 15- and 16-year-old high school students in opposition to nationalistic curriculum. It plans to launch a strike by high school students in two months.

Citizen Classrooms

This week, the group held three "citizen classrooms" at a church in Kowloon. Several key members who entered college this year, including co-founder Joshua Wong, explained political reform and civil disobedience to more than 40 high school students.

Wong told VOA that Scholarism will call for high school students to wear black and yellow ribbons during the boycott, and to attend gatherings in their spare time. Middle school students' boycott will be planned only after a conference held by Scholarism next week.

“We will stick to it to fight for the citizen nomination and to reject the decision. This is our right, we will not be afraid. We are confident to win, because we believe that if we stick to it we’ll succeed some day," he said.

The group already has had some experience in protesting on the streets.

Rehearsals

In the “rehearsal of Occupy Central” on July 1, Scholarism led hundreds of students and citizens who surrounded the chief executive's office all night to ask for dialogue. After the decision by the Standing Committee on August 31, Scholarism organized more than 600 students and citizens who marched to the Grand Hyatt Hotel at Wan Chai to protest an appearance by a senior Chinese official.

Chen, a 17-year-old high school student who would only give his family name, told VOA that it was his first time participating in political activities.

“Hong Kong people should fight for our own universal suffrage and democracy. Our candidates should not be decided by Beijing. We must have equal rights to vote and to be elected. Beijing’s decision does not meet this requirement," he said.

Scholarism spokesman Max Lau, who began college this month, thinks as long as they remain peaceful and non-violent, they will be able to influence more high school students to join them and gain a wider support.

“Every Hong Kong people should have the chance to nominate the chief executive. We firmly believe that only struggle can make Beijing to compromise. We will adhere to peaceful and non-violent protest. Democracy movement is something each of us Hong Konger should be involved in," he said.

Opposition at Home

Lu, who would only give her family name, is a 17-year-old freshman at Hong Kong Baptist University. She says she has gotten resistance from family and friends, who ask her to only be concerned with her studies.

However, she believes she will eventually gain understanding and support.

“We students really hope that the Hong Kong government and Beijing can hear our voice. Although I joined the civil disobedience, my family and friends have got a lot of pressure. Personally, I hope my family can understand my decision," she said.

Zhang, who would only provide his family name, said his parents do not support or oppose his participation, on the condition that he not do anything illegal and do well in his studies.

He thinks if they don’t fight, his generation and future generations will not have a fair election.

“I want to fight for democracy, true universal suffrage in Hong Kong and an opportunity for citizen nomination. If we don’t fight for it now, our future generations may not have the chance to enjoy a truly fair and democratic universal suffrage," he said.

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