Students protest in solidarity with pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong

On the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, NYU’s Hong Kong Student Advocacy Group took to Washington Square Park to rally against Chinese Communist Party rule in Hong Kong.

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Thirdblade Photography

NYU’s Hong Kong Student Advocacy Group displays artwork to spread awareness of the Chinese government’s treatment of Hong Kong. The group organized a protest at Washington Square Park in solidarity with protesters in Hong Kong. (Photo by Thirdblade Photography)

By Gillian Blum, Deputy Copy Chief

The Hong Kong Student Advocacy Group at NYU gathered at Washington Square Park on Oct. 1 to mark the 72nd anniversary of the foundation of the People’s Republic of China and spread awareness about life in Hong Kong under Chinese Communist Party rule. 

The Students for Hong Kong Action Day was held in solidarity with Hong Kongers who have fought the CCP’s efforts to consolidate its control of Hong Kong — including the controversial extradition and national security laws that triggered massive anti-CCP protests in the city in 2019 and 2020. 

HKSAG’s rally began with a speech from program organizer and CAS junior Alexandra Chan, who emphasized Hong Kong’s history of resistance to CCP rule, ever since control of the former British colony was handed over to Beijing in 1997. 

“We exist outside of the CCP,” Chan said. “We exist outside of their control and we exist without their actions and without their governance.”

After Chan’s introduction, participants were asked to sit in a circle and voice their opinions on the CCP’s impact on Hong Kong. They also wrote messages on the ground of the park in chalk, including “Stand with Uyghurs,” “Free HK” and “I can’t keep calm because Hong Kong is dying.” 

Asylum seekers from Hong Kong then displayed artwork inspired by their experiences. L and W, who both requested to be referred to by these letters, stood next to a display of W’s illustrations.

“What we are looking for is to ask American people to know what happened in Hong Kong,” L said. “We are in great oppression by the Chinese government. We came here because we are suffering … and it is harming our safety, physically and mentally. We just want to let all of you know that we need your help.”

One of W’s paintings was based on the police shooting of a student activist during pro-democracy protests in 2019.

“It was a very significant, hard to forget moment for a lot of Hong Kongers,” W said. “So today, since it’s the first of October, I want to show this scene again to the public in New York City.”

Kyan, a Columbia GSAS student who asked that their last name not be published, said they are passionate about the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement because their family’s everyday life in Hong Kong has been affected by the CCP. 

“As a Hong Konger, I came here, and it is quite important for me to connect with my identity in this society,” Kyan said. “I also want to do something for my own society.”

In addition to spreading awareness through art and sidewalk chalk, HKSAG also distributed flyers — which included statistics about the CCP’s ongoing crackdown on pro-democracy protests, including the arrests of more than 10,000 demonstrators since 2019.

The flyers also included stories such as that of Joshua Wong, a prominent Hong Kong activist who was jailed in Dec. 2020 for organizing pro-democracy protests and whose sentence was later extended for his participation in a vigil commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. 

HKSAG’s mission is to build a movement among New York City students in solidarity with their counterparts protesting for democracy in Hong Kong, organizers said.

Disclaimer: Alexandra Chan is WSN’s Managing Editor. She did not view or edit this story prior to publication.

A version of this story appeared in the Oct. 4, 2021, e-print edition. Contact Gillian Blum at [email protected]