‘This is our darkest hour’: students at Queen Elizabeth School ask British monarch for help during Hong Kong’s anti-government protest crisis

Chan Ho-him

Students from Queen Elizabeth School have written to Buckingham Palace to ask the British monarch to stand with Hong Kong through the city’s current anti-government protest crisis.

The six students who wrote the letter, which was posted on Facebook on Friday, told the Post they asked the queen to weigh in on protesters’ demands, which include universal suffrage and an independent investigation into the use of force by police.

The 700-word letter started with a plea for the queen’s support in the “defence of freedom and democracy” in Hong Kong and background on how the now-withdrawn extradition bill had motivated an estimated two million people to take to the streets. The letter also highlighted allegations of police violence in the handling of the citywide protests.

“Protesters, subdued arrestees, journalists and first-aiders are subjected to excessive, retaliatory and lethal violence,” the students’ letter said.

It also mentioned Chow Tsz-lok, the University of Science and Technology student who fell to his death at a car park this month during a police dispersal operation, and the situation at Polytechnic University, where students have been besieged by police since Sunday.

Queen Elizabeth after attending Christmas Day service in Sandringham in 2015. Photo: Reuters

“This is our darkest hour, yet we shall never lose faith,” the letter said. The group also called on the queen and the British government to “react firmly to China’s violation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration”.

The letter continued: “We plead, most humbly and sincerely, for Your Majesty’s support in our struggle to restore Hong Kong to its former glory and prosperity.”

Queen Elizabeth School opened in Hong Kong in 1954. The school website said it was founded to coincide with Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953.

A student who identified herself as Janet said the group hoped the school's name would get the queen's attention, although she admitted that the chance of receiving a reply from the monarch was slim.

“If she [the queen] does not reply, I’ll feel sad,” Janet said, “but if she does, it will be a bonus.”

A student identified as Q said Hongkongers should “connect as many alliances as we can”. Q said the group hoped the queen and the British people would be “moved” by their letter, which might in turn raise awareness about the situation in Hong Kong.

Eric Chan Cheung-wai, principal of Queen Elizabeth School issued a statement on Friday saying the letter did not represent the stance of the school. He also slammed the writers, calling their act “absolutely irresponsible and unacceptable” by involving students in political propaganda.

“We have solemnly made clear to all students that our school is a place to learn, and should not be used as a platform for expressing political demands,” the statement read. “We strongly condemn those with an ulterior motive who publicise their political stance in the name of our students to mislead the public.”

He added that teachers would display professionalism and continue to provide guidance for students so they could focus on learning and distinguishing right from wrong, in a serene, peaceful and orderly environment.

Buckingham Palace did not reply to questions by press time.

A memorial at New Town Plaza in Sha Tin for Chow Tsz-lok, a university student who fell from a car park and died this month. Photo: Winson Wong

Separately, a group of students and alumni from Tung Wah Group of Hospitals Lo Kon Ting Memorial College in Yuen Long demanded that school management review a decision to discipline five students who were said to have obstructed train doors on Wednesday.

The group said school authorities lacked sympathy and were rushing to judgment over the incident. The school insisted that it had handled the case with “existing guidance and disciplinary mechanisms”.

On Thursday, Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung said the Education Bureau had issued a letter to parents at 30 government-run secondary schools, advising them that students should not carry out political activities, such as strikes and human chains, at school.

Yeung also said students should not wear school uniforms while taking part in political activities outside school.

On Friday morning, about 10 students and alumni from St Francis Xavier’s School in Tsuen Wan attempted to form a human chain. Police arrived quickly to shut down the protest and check participants’ identification documents.

Additional reporting by Martin Choi

This article ‘This is our darkest hour’: students at Queen Elizabeth School ask British monarch for help during Hong Kong’s anti-government protest crisis first appeared on South China Morning Post

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