Braving the rain and pro-China demonstrators, around 150 Sydney students hoisted umbrellas in support of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.
Modelled on the ongoing protests in the former British colony, speakers at the “leaderless” rally in Sydney University called upon the Hong Kong government to accept their “five demands”.
The “five demands” are: a complete withdrawal of the proposed extradition bill, the government to withdraw the use of the word “riot” in relation to protests, an unconditional release of arrested protesters with charges to be dropped, an independent inquiry into police behaviour and the implementation of genuine universal suffrage.
Anti-communist activist Dana Pham urged solidarity with the Hong Kong people citing the alleged collaboration between Police, pro-Beijing legislators and the “white shirt” triads that attacked civilians at the Yuen Long railway station.
Former deputy president of the Pirate Party John August stressed that supporting the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement was not akin to endorsing US foreign policy, in an attempt to refute accusations of foreign interference levelled by Beijing.
The “antiELAB” (no Extradition to China bill) Hong Kong protest also drew support from the Socialist Alternative activist group and the National Tertiary Education Union.
Unlike incidents at other universities, NSW Police officers did not have to intervene as several Trotskyist Platform activists waved Chinese flags opposing the Hong Kong rally, while a Mandarin Chinese speaking student attempted to shout down the pro-Hong Kong speakers.
Cantonese and English chants of “Free Hong Kong” “Hong Kong Add Oil” and “Democracy Now” were heard as the peaceful protest marched from the Sydney University Administration Building to the Quadrangle.
A pro- Hong Kong speech was also delivered in Mandarin as part of attempts to have dialogue with international students from Mainland China about the ongoing political crisis.
Students have also called on the University’s Vice Chancellor Michael Spence to be more supportive of the Hong Kong protests and freedom of speech for students on campus.