A small group of Queen’s students gathered in front of Stauffer Library on Wednesday evening to support widespread protests in Hong Kong.
The protests, led by student groups, are in reaction to the Chinese government’s decision to only include pre-approved candidates for the 2017 chief executive elections.
The protestors believe the 1997 agreement to restore China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong from British colonial rule of Hong Kong, which also promised democracy for the people of Hong Kong, is being undermined by these actions. The relationship between Hong Kong and China, which then-leader Deng Xiaopeng referred to as “one country, two systems”, has been tense since this agreement took place.
Susanne Lee organized the gathering of Queen’s students standing in solidarity with the protestors overseas.
“What we want to do at Queen’s is spread the awareness,” Lee, Comm ’15, said.
“One of the things the protests want to do is attract international attention, especially in Canada, somewhere things like democracy, freedom of speech, are kind of taken for granted. In Hong Kong, when it’s something that could potentially be taken away from them, something that they don’t have the right to have — that’s what they’re fighting for.”
Jonathan Chan said the violent reaction to peaceful protests is unacceptable.
“Over 160,000 people went out to protest, peacefully. They didn’t bring any weapons, just umbrellas and goggles to protect from pepper-spray,” Chan, Sci ’16, said.
“But Hong Kong police wanted to cancel the event. They used pepper spray, tear gas, attacked people that are unarmed. I think that’s ridiculous.”
The group encouraged people to sign their “Support Hong Kong” posters, in order to help increase international attention for what is going on in Hong Kong.
Joanne Lai has a personal connection with the protests currently taking place in Hong Kong.
“I’m from Hong Kong, I’ve spent a whole 15 years there. It’s home for me,” Lai, ArtSci ’16, said.
“I have friends who over the past week have been pepper sprayed and tear gassed at the front lines and it’s really heartbreaking for us to see as Hong Kong people, because we want to have universal suffrage but it’s not happening.”
An earlier version of this story misspelled Jonathan Chan’s name. The Journal regrets the error.
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