Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - More than 1,200 pupils, some in their school uniform and others in casual clothes, filled Tim Mei Avenue to ask Beijing to "honour the promises it made" and "grant democracy" to the people of Hong Kong.
Turnout was far higher than expected, organisers said. In Hong Kong's highly competitive school and society that is significant since joining a strike or skipping class are very risky for students' careers.
Ho Ho-yin, a Form Five pupil at Ng Yuk Secondary School in Sha Tin, joined the boycott with six classmates. "The central and local government have completely ignored Hongkongers' voice, so I believe a stronger action, like a class boycott, could prompt the officials to listen to us," he said.
Leung Mo-man, a Form Five pupil at Sha Tin Methodist College, disagree that secondary school pupils are immature, as some pro-Beijing figures have suggested. "There isn't a big gap between secondary and university students. Secondary students have their independent thinking as well," she said.
Joshua Wong Chi-fung, convenor of student-led group Scholarism, said the turnout is much higher than their expectation of around 100 people. "Even though the cost [to pupils] of joining the boycott is higher than that of university students, the secondary pupils are still willing to stand up," he said. "It's very encouraging."
"I support the students to boycott classes if they have the ability and independent thinking to understand what's going on," said a woman who accompanied her daughter. "The government has faked Hongkongers over political reform and I do not think the reform proposal could still be amended in the future."
She was referring to a draft proposal for political reform in Hong Kong by the National People's Congress that, instead of providing for a roadmap towards responsible government, would allow the mainland to monitor the vote and weed out unwanted candidates.
A 1,200-member committee that includes pro-Beijing business and political leaders would select two or three candidates.
To protest against the decision, the pro-democracy Occupy Central movement announced what it called a "democracy banquet" with its main course on 1 October.
However, Hong Kong police warned that public gatherings of more than 50 people and marches with more than 30 participants require a letter of no objection from the police in accordance with the law. Police insisted that today's march was unauthorised.