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HK university students plan boycott as high school students rally

High school students also rallied yesterday

HONG KONG: Students have been major players in the demonstrations that have roiled Hong Kong for three months, with protesters taking to the streets almost daily.

Yesterday, as hundreds of high school students in black and carrying umbrellas turned up to protest, their seniors announced plans of their own.

Hong Kong student leaders yesterday said there will be a two-week boycott of lectures from the upcoming start of term, as they seek to keep protesters on the streets and pressure on the government.

Student leaders representing most of the city's major universities said students will miss lectures between Sept 2 - the planned start of the new term - and Sept 13.

They threatened further action if the government does not adequately respond to the protesters' five demands, which include scrapping a controversial extradition Bill, universal suffrage and an independent inquiry into alleged police abuses during the protests.

"Two weeks should be enough for the government to really think through how to respond," said Mr Davin Wong, acting president of Hong Kong University Students' Union.

"As the situation has gotten more intense, we believe the social situation will bring more students into the boycott."

Mr Wong said students will be encouraged to take time to "understand what happened in our society... what we can do for our city's future".

PRO-DEMOCRACY CAMPAIGN

The demonstrations were sparked by an attempt by the city's government to bring in a Bill that would have allowed for extradition to China.

But they quickly morphed into a wider pro-democracy campaign, in a city where young people are boxed in by the soaring cost of living and worsening job prospects.

Thousands held a scrappy anti-government protest on Wednesday at a suburban subway station where demonstrators were attacked by a mob of white-shirted men last month.

Protesters at the subway station on Wednesday were angry that nobody had yet been prosecuted for that violence.

Police said they charged two men with rioting yesterday in connection with the attack. They will appear in court today.

Hong Kong banks published full-page newspaper advertisements calling for law and order as weeks of pro-democracy protests showed no sign of let-up.

HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank and Bank of East Asia all urged the restoration of order.

"Oppose violence, restore social order, safeguard Hong Kong's status as an international financial centre," Standard Chartered wrote.

Standard Chartered said in yesterday's newspaper notices that the bank supported the government in upholding social order and guarding "the status of Hong Kong as an international financial centre".

HSBC said all parties must resolve disagreement through communication rather than violence. Neither HSBC nor Bank of East Asia referred to the government in their advertisements. - AFP, REUTERS

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