Students at Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) wore masks, shouted protest slogans, and waved banners before and during graduation ceremonies on Thursday.
CUHK students held a march from a nearby train station to the university mall, carrying banners that read “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times” and “Five Demands, Not One Less,” two major slogans of the protest movement, which is now 22 weeks old.
“Hong Kong people, resist! Good guys won’t be cops, cops are jerks! No rioters, only tyranny!” the students chanted as they marched. Many of them wore masks in defiance of the anti-mask executive order issued in October.
When the marchers reached the university, they read a statement condemning Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam and the police for brutality toward the protest movement.
CUHK Vice-Chancellor Rocky Tuan countered during the graduation ceremony by condemning the vandalism of school property with spray-painted protest slogans and urging the graduates to embrace “community” spirit. He denounced the “hateful actions” of those who “compromised the very nature of this ceremony.”
According to the Hong Kong Free Press, the marchers at one point encountered a student from China who brandished a knife at them and sang the Chinese national anthem. He claimed he needed the knife to defend himself from the pro-democracy students if they turned violent, referring to an incident at HKUST the previous day in which a Chinese student shoved another student to the ground and was then set upon by several others. The knife-wielder was escorted from the scene by campus security.
Coincidentally, another Chinese youth, University of Hong Kong music student Chen Zimou, was sentenced to six weeks in jail on Thursday for carrying a retractable baton. When he was arrested in July, Chen claimed he needed the baton to defend himself against protesters.
The graduation ceremony was abruptly halted due to “special circumstances” as soon as degrees were conferred. A university spokeswoman cited “verbal disputes,” graffiti, and unspecified “disruptions” as the reason for ending early. The students resumed demonstrating, hanging a banner in front of the library that declared “Heaven Slays the Communist Party.”
Over at HKUST, some graduates chanted protest slogans during the ceremony, refused to bow to the university president when handed their degrees, and dressed in black to wave protest signs. Their signs and literature drew attention to the case of 22-year-old student Chow Tsz-lok, badly injured during a fall that some suspect was caused inadvertently by police action or was a deliberate assault by parties unknown.
Chow’s condition deteriorated further on Thursday, with doctors fearing he may slip into brain death due to injuries sustained in a 13-foot fall from a parking garage on Monday.
“One of ours is in hospital. Let’s join his parents and all family members in supporting him. This is a very, very important message I hope we all can send to his family, that we are together with them. We look forward to seeing him again,” HKUST President Wei Shyy said during his graduation ceremony speech.
The HKUST ceremony was interrupted twice when masked students ran on stage. Another student shouted “Hope rests with the people, change starts with struggle!” at Shyy during the graduation.