Around fifty students gathered in front of the University of Michigan main plaza on October 1, 2014, to show their support for the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. There has already been multiple rallies worldwide in support of Hong Kong since the first day of their protest to occupy Central (the financial district of Hong Kong). The rally held today was part of United for Democracy: Global Solidarity for Hong Kong, which was a global movement started at Harvard University. The rally was organized by Cantonese students Anthony Ip and Chris Cheung. They decided that they need to stand together at the university and support those who are fighting for democracy back home.
There has long been a sense of tension between Hong Kong and the Chinese government on the issue of popular election for Hong Kong’s Chief Executive. The relative success of Taiwan’s recent Sunflower Movement also seems to pave the way for Hong Kong’s growing political awareness.
The goal of the rally at the university was to share the story and to raise global awareness of what is happening in Hong Kong. The students also wanted to show support for a true democracy in Hong Kong through peaceful protest as well as speak out against the use of tear gas and pepper spray by the Hong Kong police force.
The rally began at noon and lasted for almost two hours. The supporters came and formed a circle facing the crowd while holding up signs saying “We Stand For Hong Kong” and “We Stand For Democracy”. They also handed out pamphlets for those who wanted to know more about the recent political development in Hong Kong. Among the supporters, there were also several students of other ethnicities including a large group of Taiwanese who showed up to support their fellow students on their fight for democracy. It was mostly a silent rally with the exception of the singing of “Do You Hear The People Sing”.
The peaceful event was very successful in getting the word out locally and letting the world know that students at the University of Michigan care deeply about Hong Kong and their fight for democracy and human rights.