By Cannix Yau, Yujing Liu, Gigi Choy, and Rhea Mogul
Nearly a thousand alumni and students across Hong Kong added their voices to a citywide protest on Friday, as demonstrators called on the government to meet all their demands and do more than just withdrawing the extradition bill.
They formed human chains outside schools in Kowloon Tong, Tai Po and on Hong Kong Island, and asked other students to join them to put pressure on Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s administration.
Protesters want an independent investigation into the use of force by police, an amnesty for arrested protesters, a halt to categorising the protests as riots, and the implementation of universal suffrage.
Their show of defiance continued despite Lam’s announcement on Wednesday that she would formally withdraw the extradition bill that has sparked months of protests in the city.
With Lam only acceding to one of the demonstrators’ five demands, protesters and politicians from both sides of the divide have said the move was too little, too late.
In Kowloon Tong, more than 500 men and women wearing masks and dark clothes lined the walls surrounding the neighbourhood’s elite schools, La Salle College, Bishop Hall Jubilee School, Jockey Club Government Secondary School, and Tung Wah Group of Hospitals Wong Fut Nam College.
The demonstrators, most of whom were alumni, chanted school anthems and popular anti-government cheers, such as “there are no rioters, only a tyrannical regime,” and “Hongkongers, add oil.”
Some students in school uniforms also joined the effort to form a human chain.
The rally extended about 700 metres along the narrow, tree-lined pavement around two blocks, situated in an otherwise quiet middle-class neighbourhood with low-rise residential buildings.
“Even though Lam announced she would withdraw the bill, the decision should have come three months earlier. I hope she will respond to more of our demands,” said one La Salle College graduate, who wished to remain nameless.
More than 70 students skipped classes on Monday and Tuesday, according to Chan, a member of the school’s student concern group, who would only give his last name.
Despite that the Education Bureau did not want to see a school boycott, education minister Kevin Yeung Yun-hung said he would leave it to schools to handle the matter themselves according to their own judgment. Many schools allow students to skip classes if they have the permission letters from parents.
Chan, a Form Six student at La Salle, said the turnout was bigger than expected. The school had the largest crowd of the four schools, with more than 300 people involved.
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