Thousands of Students in Hong Kong have boycotted classes in protest at a decision by China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) to restrict electoral reforms in the territory.
Students from more than two dozen universities and tertiary institutions have joined the week-long protest on Monday.
About 400 academics and members of non-teaching staff are also taking part in the boycott organized by groups such as the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholarism.
The activists and students say they are upset at the decision by the NPC limiting the candidates in the election of the city’s leader, known as the chief executive, to two or three.
The decision has raised fears that candidates will be screened for loyalty to Beijing.
“I don’t think the Chinese government is trying to protect our rights, so now we are coming out to fight for our basic needs,” said 20-year-old architecture student Wu Tsz-wing, who took part in the boycott along with other students on the campus of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
The Chinese parliament, however, says nominating more candidates will cause a chaotic situation.
Hong Kong activists also insist that the region’s citizens must be able to elect the chief executive.
Chairman of the influential Hong Kong Federation of Students Alex Chow also warned that the protests would intensify if Chinese officials do not meet the demands of Hong Kong people to nominate their own candidate to lead the city.
China has said it will introduce universal suffrage for the city’s 2017 election, but wants a committee to approve the candidates.
The election will be the first in which the chief executive is directly chosen by voters.
Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China. The financial hub has enjoyed substantial political autonomy since 1997, when its leadership returned to China after a century of British colonial rule.