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After the weekend clashes, hundreds of uniformed school students, many wearing masks, formed human chains in districts across Hong Kong on Monday in support of the anti-government protesters.
According to Reuters, metro stations reopened after some were closed on Sunday amid sometimes violent confrontations, although the mood in the Asian financial hub remained tense.
Early on Monday, before school started, rows of students and alumni joined hands chanting “Hong Kong people, add oil”, a phrase which has become a rallying cry of encouragement for the protest movement.
“The school-based human chain is the strongest showcase of how this protest is deep rooted in society, so deep rooted that it enters through the school students,” said Alan Leong, an alumnus of Wah Yan College in the city’s Kowloon district.
Three months of protests over a now withdrawn extradition bill have evolved into a broader backlash against the government and greater calls for democracy.
The former British colony is facing its first recession in a decade as the protests scare off tourists and bite into retail sales in one of the world’s most popular shopping destinations.
Tourist arrivals plunged 40% in August year on year, said Paul Chan, the city’s finance secretary, with sustained clashes leading to main roads being shrouded in teargas and blocked, and the international airport shut down – hitting the tourism, retail and hotel industries.
“The most worrying thing is that the road ahead is not easily going to turn any better,” Chan said in his blog on Sunday, noting that some hotels had seen room rates plunge up to 70%.
Activists started fires in the street and vandalized a Mass Transit Railway (MTR) station in the main business district of Central on Sunday after thousands rallied peacefully at the U.S. consulate, calling for help in bringing democracy to the special administrative region.
The students, brandishing posters with the protesters’ five demands for the government, called on authorities to respond to the promises of freedom, human rights and rule of law.University students were also expected to join the human chain protests during the day on their campuses.
One of the five demands – to formally withdraw the extradition bill – was announced last week by the city government leader, Carrie Lam, but protesters are angry about her failure to call an independent inquiry into accusations of police brutality during demonstrations.
The protesters’ other demands include the retraction of the word “riot” to describe demonstrations, the release of all those arrested and the right for Hong Kong people to choose their own leaders.
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