Seven months into the protest movement, which was set off by a now-withdrawn extradition bill but has since morphed into a broader fight for democratic freedoms, passions continue to run high in Hong Kong amid the government’s failure to meet the public’s demands and allegations of police brutality against demonstrators.
With the stalemate continuing, an unfortunate victim has been the education sector, as the government and the pro-establishment camp have been pointing fingers at the teaching community and accusing it of inciting young people to take to the streets.
In an attempt to make the education sector a scapegoat for the social unrest, the administration and the pro-Beijing camp have called for scrutiny and censorship of teaching materials and holding back of funding for some higher educational institutions that are seen as student activism hotbeds.
Even more worrisome is the blaming of?teachers, accusing them of inciting youngsters and students to stand up against the government, in the absence of any solid evidence.
Despite the relentless persecution mounted by the regime and the pro-establishment camp, it is worth noting that members of the education sector aren’t intimidated at all.
In order to lend voice to the frontline teachers and educators, the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union (HKPTU) held a rally last week and denounced the escalating government crackdown on the education sector.
The event drew the participation of more than 20,000 teaching staff from tertiary institutions, secondary, primary and special schools, as well as kindergartens, alongside with their supporters.
The rally on the evening of Jan. 3 sent a crystal-clear message to the government: the teachers are staunchly determined to protect the students and defend the education sector.
With the problems ongoing, I urge teachers in the city to stay united and stand against the “white terror” mounted by the authorities, and continue to perform their duties with uncompromising professionalism.
As a trade union, the HKPTU will continue to throw its weight behind teachers by providing legal advice and other kinds of help for those who have fallen victim to political persecution.
We are also working aggressively on a crowd-funding project in order to help affected teachers in the coming days.
As the teaching community gets targeted, we are angry, helpless and disappointed, but we will not be afraid or back down.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan 7
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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