Hong Kong protests: Secondary students plan rally at HKU against alleged police brutality


Mass gathering is set to take place on private property at university campus, but participants could still be subject to anti-mask law

Kelly Ho |

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Secondary students are set to hold a rally against alleged police brutality on Friday.

Secondary school students are planning a rally on Friday to protest against alleged police brutality during recent anti-government protests.

The rally is jointly organised by students from 11 schools, including Queen’s College, St Paul’s Secondary School, and Wah Yan College Hong Kong. The event is set to take place at Sun Yat Sen Place at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) from 5pm to 7pm on October 18.

“More and more arrested protesters have opened up about their unfair treatment by the police, from verbal abuse to sexual assault … there are so many examples,” an organiser wrote on Instagram.

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They are calling for students across Hong Kong to join the rally, which will feature a sharing session by barrister Billy Li On-yin, one of the conveners of the Progressive Lawyers Group, and a first aid provider, who will share their thoughts about what they see as abuse of power by police during the protests.

The organiser also mentioned that participants can wear a face mask to the rally, on the grounds that the event is held on campus, which is private property. But legal experts warned that, while the university campus is privately owned, it is considered a public place, meaning participants are subject to the anti-mask law.

Stuart Hargreaves, a professor in the Faculty of Law at Chinese University, said that, under the Public Order Ordinance, any place where the public are permitted access is defined as a public space, so the anti-mask law can be applied to participants of the student rally.

Although the University of Hong Kong is private property, students may still be subject to the anti-mask law.
Photo: Nora Tam/SCMP

“The status of the campus as publicly or privately owned property is not relevant, if the [university] authorities as a general rule do not seek to prevent members of the public from entering the part of the campus where the rally is to be held,” Hargreaves said.

A barrister, Lisa Lam Hoi-yan, said the rally may be exempt from the regulation, if it is organised or approved by a registered college with the consent of its management body. Still, she believes students risk violating the anti-mask law, as the event could easily fall within other circumstances that are regulated by the law.

Over 100 students and alumni of Hon Wah College formed a human chain on Monday morning outside the school in Siu Sai Wan.
Photo: Hon Wah College Concern Group

In response to an inquiry, a HKU spokesperson said the university’s Student Union is a co-organiser of the rally, but did not comment on whether the event has been approved. Young Post reached out to the Student Union for comment, but did not get a response before going to press.

Meanwhile, more than 100 students and alumni of Hon Wah College formed a human chain outside the school yesterday morning. Their protest was in support of the student who was asked to take off his black face mask by the school last week.

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Masked participants gathered on Harmony Road in Siu Sai Wan around 7am. They chanted slogans such as “Five demands, not one less” and “Hongkongers, resist!”, and sang protests songs. Students from neighbouring schools also joined in.

A former Hon Wah College student told the media that the school has a pro-China stance, and that students cannot express their opinions freely. If they did, they could be penalised by the school.