Hundreds of Hong Kong secondary school students rallied in Central on Saturday in a peaceful anti-government protest.
The six students who organised the event in Edinburgh Place said 500 people attended the rally, which started at 2pm and lasted for more than three hours.
The masked, black-clad protesters chanted slogans during the sit-in, at which they put up a “Lady Liberty Hong Kong” statue.
Teachers, parents and students, as well as opposition lawmakers Roy Kwong Chun-yu and Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, took turns to speak to offer support to the rally-goers.
Form Four student Jason Leung, 15, who organises a weekly class boycott joined by 10 to 20 students, attended on Saturday to protest against the way his school in Yau Ma Tei has handled the student-led strikes.
“The school has hijacked our activities and their acts are unacceptable,” said Leung, adding students dared not join the boycott, fearing possible disciplinary action, while teachers deliberately avoided political topics in liberal studies classes.
The school had also rejected the ideas of students forming a human chain for a protest and allowing space for them to express their views with Post-it notes.
Leung said his school displayed pictures of the protests at weekly assemblies but no photos or footage of police abusing their power were shown.
"Some mainland Chinese students in junior forms are misled by the biased information and explanations given by teachers as a result," he said.
Leung said he had held negotiations about screening footage from the protest movement in the school hall in late August but he was later told he could not hold the event.
His proposed student union cabinet was disqualified from election because teachers said it posted “biased information” on its social media account.
Leung said all the information posted was fact-checked.
Another rally-goer, a Form Six student named Peggy, said: “I want to show the government that secondary school students will continue to protest even though the school [term] has started.”
She joined a human chain and distributed ribbons and leaflets at her school in North District, where a lot of the younger students are from the mainland.
A former secondary school vice-principal at the rally said: “The powerless want to be heard, but the powerful want to silence them.”
Separately, 10 masked students from seven secondary schools in Tai Po held a press conference to condemn a police clearance operation on September 7 at Tai Po Market MTR station which led to students being subdued, beaten with batons and arrested.
“We will send a petition letter to local police. If they don’t reply, we will discuss our next move with lawmakers and call for more non-cooperation protests. But we will be peaceful, rational and non-violent,” said Bosco Cheung, a Form Six student at Ling Liang Church M H Lau Secondary School.
The group, including students from Kau Yan College, Tai Po Sam Yuk Secondary School and Law Ting Pong Secondary School, also condemned Confucian Tai Shing Ho Kwok Pui Chun College for “oppressing a class boycott and students’ freedom of assembly” by imposing disciplinary action on those involved.
They claimed the school penalised students who had taken part in peaceful public rallies with a demerit and prevented alumni assisting with a class boycott from entering the campus.