The crisis caused by the amendment of the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance has been escalating for nearly three months. The government has been refusing to listen to the public and to respond to the five demands. The frustration has developed into clashes between the police and citizens. As of August 15th, 748 citizens have been arrested, among which are students and teachers. The education sector has become a target of the establishment, who attributes young people’s involvement in the protests to liberal education. In face of false accusations, the PTU devotes itself to defending the profession of education as well as to fulfilling its civic responsibility by speaking up against injustice. In the pursuit of justice, the PTU hopes its members will continue to join them in safeguarding the next generation and let their conscience speak.
Teachers Ever Present in Peaceful Demonstrations
At this key moment, teachers must shoulder the responsibility of educating and protecting students and speak up against social injustice. On April 28th, 130,000 citizens of Hong Kong took to the street to oppose the evil law. On June 9th, a mass rally of 1,030,000 took place. On June 16th, 2,000,000+1 rallied through the city, followed by another march of 550,000 on July 1st. The PTU was present at all these marches.
Civil servants organized an assembly earlier, in which the PTU’s Vice President Tin Fong-Chak encouraged all teachers to adhere to their professional standards. On August 5th, the PTU, as the largest labour union for a single profession, showed its support to the massive strike by closing all four offices (the Headquarters, Service Centres in Mong Kok and Causeway Bay, and the Centre in Tseung Kwan O) on the day.
Teachers’ March for Conscience 22,000 Participated
The PTU has also organized its own march for the education sector on August 17th , more than 22,000 participated. Teachers peacefully voiced the education sector’s demand and urged the government to respond to citizens’ five demands by the education sector’s cohesiveness and actions.
Liberal Education Becomes Scapegoat
PTU Defends Teachers’ Profession
Since July, there has been criticism against the education sector, attributing young people’s involvement in the protests to liberal education. There have even been groups and pro-establishment media who accused teachers for brainwashing and inciting students to protest against the government. The PTU believes that attributing social problems to liberal education is an attempt to shift the focus of the protests. We demand these groups and media to stop falsely accusing liberal education and using the education sector as a scapegoat for the government’s administration shortcomings.
The education sector shoulders the responsibility of educating the next generation. Teachers will continue to adhere to their professional standards and discuss the issues with students from all perspectives. At the same time, they will fulfill their civic responsibilities and speak against social injustice. We urge pro-establishments individuals to stop pressurizing teachers, demeaning the profession of education, and threatening teachers’ freedom.
Protesters Resist Police Brutality
Both Sides Must Remain Restrained
Protests against the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance have developed into large-scale clashes between the police and citizens. The police have repeatedly used excessive violence in dispersing crowds. Some police officers have even disguised themselves as protesters, police fired teargas inside an MTR station, and fired bullets at protesters in a close range. Up till now, only two persons was charged for rioting concerning the Yuen Long attacks on July 21st.
A series of clashes between the police and citizens have escalated to an extremely dangerous level. The PTU expresses its criticism of the government for allowing police brutality that caused injury of many citizens. ‘Violence begets more violence.’ The PTU urges the Hong Kong Police Force to remain restrained in handling mass protests and stop using excessive and unlawful violence against protesters and citizens to avoid escalation of opposition sentiments.
Letter to Carrie Lam to Urge Concrete Response
The PTU expresses grief over the current situation and understands the clashes stem from the general public’s lost trust in the government’s attempt to amend the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance.
Coupled with longstanding political and social problems, citizens, especially young people, have become pessimistic and hopeless about the future. The PTU addressed an open letter to Chief Executive Carrie Lam on July 18th, urging the government to respond to the demands of the society with concrete actions as soon as possible, including establishing an independent inquiry comprised of judges, the complete withdrawal of the amendment of the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, and replacing responsible government officials among others. Only concrete actions of the government can relieve the situation and stop the society from further decaying.
Written on August 23rd, 2019