Pro-independence flyers were distributed outside schools on Tuesday, after a months-long break in such campaigning.
The groups Hong Kong National Front and Student Localism say they have distributed leaflets outside around 20 schools across Hong Kong.
The flyers read “Hong Kong independence, back to the right track” and “The only way to defend Hong Kong and our people is to go independent.”
They did not disclose the name of the schools but revealed that a Sha Tin secondary school student voluntarily handed out flyers outside the school gates, whilst another did so outside the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals Lo Kon Ting Memorial College in Yuen Long.
“Hong Kong independence is a far away goal, which adults and students have to fight for. The future belongs to us, the young generation – we will be Hong Kong’s masters, thus we will wake more sleeping students up,” Student Localism wrote on its social media page.
The groups criticised the spread of patriotic education in schools, the use of Mandarin as a teaching medium for Chinese, and the rise of mainland Chinese people competing for school places in Hong Kong.
It added that the government cannot suppress an ideal: “An ideal will never disappear. Suppression will only make the flame of independence burn stronger.”
The two groups called on university and secondary school students to promote independence in schools, and said they will provide assistance.
Last year, Student Localism also organised students to hand out pro-independence flyers outside schools on the first day of school on September 1. Some schools allowed students to do so, but there were cases of students being stopped by teaching staff outside school gates. Then-secretary for education Eddie Ng said schools may reach out to regional education officials, or even the police public relations branch, to ask for support if the distribution of pro-independence leaflets near school premises disturbed students.
Previously, Tony Chung, a core member of Student Localism and a secondary five student at Buddhist Mau Fung Memorial College, told HKFP that the plan to promote independence in schools was suspended soon after, because of the disqualification of two localist lawmakers and internal conflicts among pro-independence groups.
In September, the emergence of Hong Kong independence banners on university “Democracy Wall” message boards sparked controversy, as some schools removed them without seeking the consent of student unions, who managed the boards with authorisation from school management.
The vice-chancellors of ten universities then issued a joint statement that said: “We treasure freedom of expression, but we condemn its recent abuses. Freedom of expression is not absolute, and like all freedoms it comes with responsibilities. All universities undersigned agree that we do not support Hong Kong independence, which contravenes the Basic Law.”
However, Peter Mathieson, the outgoing University of Hong Kong president, claimed that the statement did not suggest that discussion of Hong Kong independence was, or is, an abuse of freedom of expression.