The Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) submitted official letters last week to withdraw from the HKAlliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China and the Civil Human Rights Front, after meeting two weeks ago to discuss reservations over localist sentiment.

The HKFS standing committee chairwoman Chan Shui-ling said that as the group represents students and universities, it believes that it should not join groups or movements under the HKFS’s identity.

HKFS June 4 Vigil
HKFS representatives at a previous June 4 vigil for the Tiananmen Massacre. Photo: HKFP.

When asked if the HKFS’s withdrawal was related to localism, Chan said that the committee did not discuss it fully while making its decision, but it was “pretty much” related, Apple Daily reported.

Chan added that the HKFS has not sent a representative to HKAlliance meetings over the past couple of years. She also added that the HKFS would not attend HKAlliance’s June 4 vigil under the group’s identity. Talks about attending the vigils of other student groups had yet to take place, she said.

A vigil has been held in Victoria Park on June 4 every year since 1989 by HKAlliance to commemorate the victims of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. This would be the first year when the HKFS as an organisation will not attend the vigil.

June 4 Vigil
Observer at a previous June 4 vigil. Photo: HKFP.

In a letter addressed to the HKFS from HKAlliance chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan, he expressed regret over the HKFS’s withdrawal, but said it couldn’t be helped and he thanked the HKFS for its work.

“In 1989 the group (HKFS) led support for student movements in Beijing, and was instrumental in founding and supporting HKAlliance, allowing us to carry out our work smoothly. We extend our heartfelt thanks to the HKFS.”

Ho also expressed eagerness to continue working with the HKFS despite it’s withdrawal.

“HKAlliance looks forward to working with and maintaining close ties with the HKFS towards fighting for Chinese democracy and human rights issues. With different voices speaking out on different platforms, Chinese democracy will soon be realized.”

HKAlliance Letter
HKAlliance letter in response to the HKFS. Photo: Facebook.

Civil Human Rights Front convener Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit stated that the HKFS’s withdrawal was unfortunate, and also thanked the group for years of support. When asked if the withdrawal would affect the march this year, Sum stated that while the HKFS has withdrawn it does not mean that they have cut off all ties, and students would be welcome to join independently, Ming Pao reported.

The HKFS has been a central figure in Hong Kong’s democratic movements in the past couple of years. The HKFS participated in Occupy Central under the leadership of Alex Chow Yong-kang and Lester Shum but was subject to criticism afterwards for failing to act as a leader during the protests, leading to five universities under the HKFS holding referendums to withdraw from the group, with four passing.

Isaac Cheung is pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism and Politics and Public Administration at the University of Hong Kong. During the Occupy Central protests, Isaac worked as an editor and reporter at LIVE: Verified Updates, a bilingual news page founded and maintained by HKU journalism students. He has also worked at Coconuts Hong Kong as a reporter.