A handful of students from the University of Toronto launched a 48-hour hunger strike outside of Old City Hall on Saturday in solidarity with their “fellow students” at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).
Since Tuesday, CUHK has been operating as a “battlefield” in the clash between riot police officers and students, with police “bombarding” the campus with rapid-fire tear gas and stinging liquid, according to The New York Times. Hong Kong police suspect that the university is being used as a “weapon factory” for protesters and that using “tear gas, rubber bullets and beanbag rounds” on students is subsequently justified.
Hogan Lam, a University of Toronto student and spokesperson for the U of T Hong Kong Extradition Law Awareness Group, told the Star that the group felt that they could not “sit idly” as their counterparts in Hong Kong “suffered through the unprecedented attack.”
“The University of Toronto has a long-standing relationship with the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and we must do everything in our power to support our counterparts in Hong Kong,” Lam said.
One of the twelve hunger strike participants, fourth-year student Sam Man, is an exchange student from CUHK. Man says that he’s in touch with his friends in Hong Kong — some of whom were arrested by police, he claims — and that he’s doing everything he can to support them.
Lam said that supporters brought the group “chairs, blankets, sleeping bags, and hot water,” but that the City didn’t let them set up tents to sleep in next to Old City Hall.
City spokesperson Brad Ross confirmed that “camping or setting up a tent on the square is not permitted.”
Lam said they’ll sleep without tents.
“We have a large amount of sleeping bags, ground mats, tarps, and blankets. But first-aiders will be monitoring the condition of each student to ensure their safety and determine if it is safe for them to continue with their fasting,” says Lam.
John Tory’s spokesperson Don Peat said that the mayor “believes in democracy and the rule of law, which includes the right to protest.”
“The Mayor made his views clear on this topic earlier this year when he did not attend the People’s Republic of China anniversary flag raising at City Hall,” Peat said.
Peat told the Star that Tory, “remains hopeful that in the very near future a resolution will be found to a number of issues between Canada and China which are of great concern to him and to all of the people of Toronto who strongly believe in addressing issues at home and abroad respectfully and with due process.”
The University of Toronto could not immediately be reached for comment.
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