#students | #parents | Hong Kong Youth Will Fight For ‘Free and Democratic’ Future Despite Mass Arrests of Children, Activists Vow

Months of mass protests in Hong Kong have paralysed the semi-autonomous city and surrounding region. This weekend, protesters hit the streets for the 19th consecutive week of civil disobedience, chanting the now famous refrain, “Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times.”

The anti-China movement—which began as a protest against extradition legislation but has morphed into a more general anti-government campaign—is an overwhelmingly young one.

Nearly 60 percent of those involved are aged 29 or younger, with just 18 percent 45 of older, according to The South China Morning Post. While university students are a key group within the activists, high schoolers are also regularly on the front line too.

The youngest have also been involved in the most high-profile and violent incidents. An 18-year-old high school student was the first shot with live ammunition, a 14-year-old was the second person shot, and another 18-year-old was charged with attempted murder for attacking a police officer with a box cutter.

Schools and university campuses have become key sites for additional protests, keeping anti-government sentiment bubbling and visible inbetween weekend actions. Mass boycotting of classes, sit-ins and human chains have all disrupted academic institutions, in defiance of the government’s efforts to stop them.

Despite the disruption, some schools have refused to punish students involved in the protests. Multiple institutions have this week, for example, refused to expel those arrested during recent weekend protests, The South China Morning Post noted.

The youthful character of the movement is borne out in the arrest figures. As of last week, least 750 of the more than 2,500 people arrested since mass unrest broke out are younger than 18, The Guardian reported. This means almost one third of all of those detained are children.

Matthew Cheung, the territory’s deputy leader, described the figure as “shocking and heartbreaking” and called on parents and teachers to dissuade young people form joining anti-government actions.