PTU News Reporter
The education sector has been under constant attack by the government and the pro-establishment since June last year and the situation only aggravated in recent months. The Education Bureau openly imposed pressure on school managements by demanding them to suspend teachers who have been arrested or have received complaints. Complaints were found guilty even before comprehensive investigation and the bureau claimed deregistration could be considered as consequences.
Following the education sector march organised by the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union (PTU) on 17th August last year, around twenty thousand educators responded to the call again and participated in the Union’s assembly ‘Fearless in Face of White Terror, Safeguard Teachers’ Professionalism’ to show their determination in guarding the teaching profession.
At dusk, crowds started flooding into Edinburgh Place in Central, where the assembly took place. Frontline teachers, including secondary school vice-principal and PTU Executive Committee Cheung Yui-fai, primary school teacher and newly elected district council member Law Pei-lee, and the teacher shot in the right eye by police on 12th June 2019 Raymond Yeung, took turns to make speeches and called for all teachers to unite against the White Terror created by the government.
Lawmakers, including PTU Vice-President Ip Kin-yuen, PTU Executive Committee Helena Wong, democrats Dennis Kwok, Fernando Cheung, Claudia Mo, and Eddie Chu, also took turns to give speeches. Ip criticised individuals who accused teachers of inciting students without any evidence. He pointed out that the culprit of all the protests in the past six months was Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the blame should not be shifted onto teachers. Cardinal Joseph Zen, retired bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong, one of the school sponsoring bodies, was also present at the assembly and gave a speech, demanding the government to establish an independent inquiry. He emphasised that it was not for revenge but reconciliation.
During the assembly, the PTU played two videos in which the Taiwan largest teachers’ union The National Federation of Teachers Union, and Education International showed global support for and solidarity with teachers in Hong Kong.
In the finale speech, PTU President Fung Wai-wah emphasised that, as the labour union for teachers, the PTU would fulfill its duty and unite with teachers against the government’s suppression. It would continue to provide affected teachers with legal advice and assistance with lawsuits as well as their livelihood. He also announced a crowd-funding project was underway and called for PTU members to stay tuned for updates, unite, and safeguard teachers’ professionalism.