A group of Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) students have marched on the campus ahead of a graduation ceremony to support arrested students. Although the ceremony itself went ahead uninterrupted, the event was suddenly cut short after degrees were conferred.
Students also protested at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST)’s graduation ceremony on Thursday.
At CUHK, hundreds of students in graduation gowns and masks held large banners that read “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times,” “Five demands not one less” and “CUHK stand with Hong Kong” as they marched from the University MTR station towards the university mall, where the ceremony was held.
Protests first sparked by the now withdrawn extradition law are now in their 22nd week. They have evolved into sometimes violent displays of dissent against police action, calls for democracy, and anger over Beijing’s encroachment. “Hong Kong people, resist! Good guys won’t be cops, cops are jerks! No rioters, only tyranny!” students chanted as they marched on Thursday.
More than 30 students of the university have been arrested during the months-long demonstrations.
As the groups reached the ceremony venue, a mainland Chinese student pointed a knife at the group and sang the Chinese national anthem.
Asked why he was wielding a knife, he said he was afraid of being attacked like at the HKUST.
He was referring to an incident on Wednesday at a dialogue between students and the HKUST president. A mainland student shoved another student to the ground, prompting students to beat up the mainland student.
“I think my life is in danger, I must defend myself,” the knife-wielding student at CUHK said. University security guards then took him away.
The protesting students read out a statement condemning Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the police for their treatment of the ongoing protest movement.
“Carrie Lam, her team and the police have yet to bear the responsibility they should have. In light of such, we are all in extreme dismay and anger,” a masked representative said.
Students chanted protest slogans as the Chinese national anthem was played.
During his speech, CUHK Vice-Chancellor Rocky Tuan said he regretted the defacement of university property that had occurred since Wednesday night. He was referring to protest slogans being spray-painted on building walls.
He forewent his prepared speech and said he would speak to students from his heart: “How does a community thrive? How does a community grow? It is built on mutual respect, mutual understanding… What is the meaning of your existence? The meaning is what you have done in terms of service for the community,” he said.
He urged students not to be afraid of failing and never be content with their successes. He added that happiness was the key to success.
Degrees were then conferred after Tuan’s speech, before the school suddenly announced that the ceremony would be halted “due to special circumstances,” despite no protests taking place.
Students demonstrated again peacefully after school officials left.
They included journalism graduates who held a slogan reading “We are not afraid of their guns, but they are afraid of our cameras” as they wore high visibility press vests. Meanwhile, social work students held a banner reading “social workers are not stability-maintaining machines.”
A large slogan that read “Heaven slays the Communist Party” also appeared in front of the university library.
Meanwhile, at an HKUST graduation ceremony, students chanted protest slogans for several minutes after the national anthem was played.
Some masters’ degree graduates refused to bow to the president when they were conferred their degrees, as other black-clad students held protest placards outside the ceremony venue.
They also displayed information relating to the case of Chow Tsz-lok, a 22-year-old HKUST student who suffered serious injuries after falling from a car park. The reason for his fall remains unclear, as police were conducting a dispersal operation nearby when he fell.
In his speech, HKUST President Wei Shyy mentioned Chow’s case said that his classmates and family members were supporting him: “We are together with them. We look forward to [seeing] him again,” Shyy said.
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