Over 300 students joined together in Piccadilly Gardens on Wednesday evening in solidarity with the Occupy Central Movement in Hong Kong. The event was organised by Louis Yuen and five other second year students at the University of Manchester and UoM Business School.
The aim of the protests in Hong Kong is for China to withdraw plans to decide on candidates for the next Hong Kong leadership election in 2017. Beijing opted last month that Hong Kong people could elect their next leader with the compromise that the candidates would be screened by a pro-Beijing committee based in China.
Beijing does not want to escalate the protests in Hong Kong with a strong response, worrying what the effect could be on Mainland China. In Hong Kong, however, police responded to the protests on the weekend with tear gas and pepper spray, although since Monday the police have stopped using forceful action and the protests remain peaceful.
The Occupy Central Movement aims to achieve universal suffrage: genuine political rights with no unreasonable limitations. It has been argued that back door diplomacy may have been a better option but the students have taken to the streets to express their views.
The UoM students orchestrated the event in Piccadilly Gardens as an evening of speeches and singing, including Les Miserables’ Do You Hear The People Sing?, and they provided yellow ribbons and banners to all attendees.
Yuen has not told her family in Hong Kong about this event because they are pro-Beijing, but this did not distract her focus for the evening:
“The people in Hong Kong are suffering from the pepper spray and tear gas… so we wanted to get all the people together to speak out and show support for Hong Kong democracy.
“I think the government have to listen, because we are not going to give up this time, because for Hong Kong people we all think it’s the last time to strive for democracy.”