Students from 29 secondary schools created a human chain along Shing Mun River on Thursday afternoon.
Hundreds of participants lined up on both sides of the river from Lek Yuen Bridge to Sand Martin Bridge, forming a rectangle that stretched about one kilometre.
Most participants were masked students in their school uniform.
They chanted slogans like, “Five demands, not one less” and “721, [the police] didn’t show up; 831, [the police] beat someone to death”, referencing the police’s perceived inaction towards the mob attacks on July 21 in Yuen Long and the alleged police violence at Prince Edward station on August 31, which led to online speculations people had died.
The schools involved in this human chain are all in the Sha Tin area, and included Baptist Lui Ming Choi Secondary School, Immaculate Heart of Mary College, Shatin Tsung Tsin Secondary School, Jockey Club Ti-I College and Lam Tai Fai College.
The students first gathered at five checkpoints: Sha Tin Sports Ground, Sha Tin Jockey Club Swimming Pool, Lek Yuen Bridge at Sha Tin Park, Sha Kok Estate basketball court, and the basketball court near Black 17 at City One housing complex. At about 5.30 pm, they started moving to the river banks.
“To this day, the five demands still haven’t been met,” said a 16-year-old student, surnamed Yu, at Tak Sun Secondary School.
“My family doesn’t allow me to take part in the protests but I really cannot stand the injustice that’s happening in Hong Kong right now ... that’s why I have to come out,” said Yu, who stuck a black sticker that read “conscience” on his shirt.
He added that he didn’t know if peaceful means like building human chains would bring about any changes in society. Yet he emphasised that it’s crucial for people to express their views rationally and not resort to violence.
“I don’t want to see more conflicts in society. If we respond with hatred, it’ll only breed even more hatred [between the two sides],” he said.
As evening drew near, at 6.30 pm, the students belted out the movement’s anthem, Glory to Hong Kong, also referred to as Hong Kong’s “national anthem”. They also turned on their phone flashlights. The lights glistened on the surface of Shing Mun River.
Yip, a 13-year-old student at Pok Oi Hospital Chan Kai Memorial College told Young Post that the ongoing human chain activities wouldn’t be in vain.
“We’re voicing our thoughts. We still have so many demands,” said Yip, “if we give up now, the protesters who’ve sacrificed their futures won’t forgive us.”
She was referring to those who had lost their lives during the movement and those who had been arrested.
“I really don’t want to lose all my freedom, I don’t want our city to become a part of the mainland China,” she said, explaining that it is the mainland’s human rights issues that bother her the most.
Although she advocated peaceful protests, Yip said she didn’t blame the more violent protesters.
“We’re on the same side, we just use different methods [to make our voices heard],” Yip said.
She hoped the movement would end peacefully and that all Hongkongers could get what they want.
If that happens, she said: “we will all sing Glory to Hong Kong together at the protest zone outside LegCo. I don’t want to lose again like in the Umbrella Movement in 2014,” she said.
Students began to leave Shing Mun River at 6.40 pm and moved to New Town Plaza, where they chanted slogans and again sang Glory to Hong Kong. Others in the shopping mall cheered on the students as they started leaving at around 7.15 pm.
Some students urged others to jump over the ticket barriers at the MTR station, as a form of protest against the railway company’s refusal to provide the surveillance footage from Price Edward Station on the night of August 31.