Hong Kong's School Strike for Climate Action may go ahead as planned after permit situation clarified by police and SOCO

A miscommunication meant student organisers cancelled march, disappointing many including Greta Thunberg; they now hope to be able to protest this month

Wong Tsui-kai |

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The planned protest will be reorganised.

The organisers of the School Strike Hong Kong for Climate Action are hoping to hold the follow-up protest as planned on Sunday, May 26, after they had earlier cancelled it.

Yesterday, School Strike Hong Kong for Climate Action's Ewan Windebank had told Young Post the march against inaction on climate change could not go ahead because the group were unable to obtain a permit.

To organise a legal protest, public meeting or procession in Hong Kong requires approval from the Hong Kong Police Force. According to a Facebook post by the organisers on Tuesday, they said they were unable to get permission, as new rules required protests to be held by registered non-governmental organisations (NGOs). 

However, the police denied that only registered groups can apply to hold protests. “There are no special requirements regarding NGO status; individuals may apply,” an officer at the Public Order Event Support Section of the Hong Kong Police Force told Young Post.

We also spoke to Sze Lai-shan, Community Organiser from the Society for Community Organisation, an NGO which sets up regular marches on issues such as welfare. She said they have not been asked for proof of organisational status, and that being an unregistered associate organisation is not an issue. Her advice was to apply for the permit.

“The students should fill in the forms and apply first, and the officer [overseeing their application] will contact them later if there are concerns,” she said.

We spoke to Ewen again today to tell him what the police had said. He said: “Upon knowing this [that there is no change regarding the requirement to be an NGO], we will definitely cross-check the information we were given in the first place, and push to hold the march as initially planned.”  

This will come as a relief to those who saddened by the cancellation news, including Greta Thunberg. Young Post had reached out to the Swedish teen activist by email following the cancellation. Greta had called the situation “absolutely horrible”, and saying that it increased the responsibility of those who are allowed to protest. 

“We must do it on their behalf as well, in solidarity with our brave friends in [countries where protests are banned or limited].”

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