The Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) have launched a fund to assist prosecuted pro-democracy protesters, regardless of their political affiliation.

The Federation will inject HK$1 million and launch a crowdfunding campaign to reach HK$3.5 million, in order to provide the activists and their families help with daily expenses, legal costs, transport fees, medical fees, among others.

“We will not discriminate among people if they have different means of protesting [or] political views, or even a different imagination of the future – as long as their intention was to fight for Hong Kong’s freedom and democracy,” said Poon Ka-kit, the external secretary of the Lingnan University student union. But he ruled out helping those use indiscriminate violence.

Hong Kong Federation of Students Fund
Members of the HKFS fund.

The fund will be managed by a committee consisting of the chair of the HKFS Standing Committee, three student representatives, and three members of the public – one of which will be a practicing barrister.

Its priority will be helping jailed protesters. It will also help those who do not receive assistance from other funds such as the Justice Defence Fund, which mainly assists 16 jailed activists and disqualified lawmakers.

Au Tze-ho, president of the Chinese University of Hong Kong student union, said the make-up of the committee was to avoid biased decisions, adding that the application criteria is not strict. He also said applications will be confidential, but a regular financial report will be published.

umbrella occupy movement 2014 democracy
Post-it notes during the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests. File photo: Simonwai, via Flickr.

Tommy Cheung, a former student leader who has now graduated, is one of the committee members representing the public. He was charged by the government over the 2014 pro-democracy protests.

Cheung said he could personally afford the bail money and other legal fees, but the same could not be said for other protesters: “This HKFS fund can help bringing the voices of these protesters back to the mainstream, so that more Hong Kong people will know about them.”

Fermi Wong, founder of the NGO Hong Kong Unison and another public committee member, said the government has been taking a “ruthless” approach in targeting young people.

She said the protesters will also need emotional support, such as prison visits.

“This is a sad and worrying situation,” she said. “We should help those fighting for Hong Kong’s development, to make them less lonely.”

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.