If the Hong Kong government thought the start of a new school year would put a brake on the months-long protests that have rocked the city, they would have grossly miscalculated.
On Sept. 9, during the second week of the new academic year, students continued their protest actions by forming human chains, inspired by the “Hong Kong Way” demonstrations on Aug. 24 that saw people hold hands even 1,620 feet (495 meters) above sea level across a mountain. That idea was itself a recreation of the Baltic Way human chains that precipitated the independence of the Baltic states from the USSR three decades ago.
The human-chain rally followed another weekend of serious clashes between protesters and police that took place after tens of thousands marched to the city’s US consulate, calling on Washington to support their fight for freedom and democracy. In the skirmishes that followed, a student from a high school in the Tai Po district was violently apprehended by police in a subway station. Video footage showed the student bleeding from the head. Hundreds of students and alumni from the same school also took part (link in Chinese) in the human chain today, with some wearing bandages around their heads in solidarity with the injured student.
The protests in Hong Kong, now in their 14th week, began in opposition to an extradition bill that would have allowed the government to send suspects to mainland China. The Hong Kong government last week announced it would formally withdraw, and not merely suspend, the extradition bill in a bid to cool tensions, but the protests have continued unabated as public ire against what many see as rapidly worsening police brutality reaches a boiling point.
Police said they arrested 157 people over the weekend, bringing the total number of people arrested since the protests started in mid-June to more than 1,300. The youngest person arrested on the weekend was 14, underscoring the extent to which teenagers are on the frontline of Hong Kong’s protests. A 12-year-old was arrested in August.
The human-chain rally came after high-school and university students last week kicked off the new academic year with a class boycott.