Hong Kong students boycott classes after summer holidays as protesters disrupt morning commute

Organisers say thousands skip school as pro-democracy protests continue into autumn

Conrad Duncan@theconradduncan
Monday 02 September 2019 12:26
China's state media releases footage of armed police in Hong Kong anti-demonstration drill

High school students in Hong Kong have boycotted classes on the first day of the new school year in a continuation of nearly three months of fiery anti-government protests.

The boycott's organisers said thousands of protesters have skipped classes, instead donning gas marks, goggles and hard hats for a demonstration at a public square in central Hong Kong on Monday afternoon.

Demonstrators have called for the complete withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill, the retraction of the word “riot” to describe protests, democratic electoral reform, the release of arrested protesters, and an inquiry into police brutality.

At St Francis' Canossian College on Monday, students knelt in a line and held up hand-painted signs that read: "The five major demands: Not one is dispensable."

Kevin Yeung, Hong Kong’s education security, denounced the protests and said "schools should not be used as places for political demands or exercising pressure.”

Earlier in the day, some protesters disrupted the morning rush hour by blocking train doors and evading riot police.

Officers at Lok Fu Station hit protesters with batons and arrested one person, while another three were arrested at Lai King Station.

The arrests followed another weekend of major protests in Hong Kong which saw demonstrators block roads with burning barricades to disrupt access to the territory’s airport.

On Sunday, Chinese state media released a video of armed police conducting anti-demonstration drills and warned that “the end is coming for those attempting to disrupt Hong Kong and antagonise China.”

John Lee, Hong Kong’s security of security, accused protesters of showing “signs of terror” at a press conference on Monday and referred to Hong Kong’s police as “Asia’s finest”.

Clashes between protesters and police have become increasingly violent in recent weeks with multiple examples of video footage showing officers chasing and hitting demonstrators with batons.

Hong Kong’s police have maintained that the aggressive response is necessary to deal with “violent protests” and secure officers’ safety.

Protesters have accused Beijing and the government of Hong Kong of eroding the autonomy and civil liberties of the territory, which were promised when the former British colony was returned to China in 1997.

Agencies contributed to this report

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