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Canberra international students show solidarity with Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters

A small group of international students and supporters marched in protest to the Chinese embassy in Canberra on Monday to show their solidarity with pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong. 

UNITED WE STAND: International students and other supporters of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong make their views ...
UNITED WE STAND: International students and other supporters of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong make their views heard outside the Chinese embassy on Monday. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

About 30 people attended the march, monitored by Australian Federal Police, in demand of democratic voting rights for Hong Kong citizens. Many held signs and banners; some carried umbrellas, the symbol of the so-called Umbrella Revolution that began on September 26. 

Meanwhile in Hong Kong, government employees returned to work on Monday and officials said they were ready to discuss constitutional reform with protest leaders.

Canberra protest organisers Kesler Nip and Jeffrey Chan said they wanted to give students and supporters in the capital an opportunity to show their solidarity with those protesting in Hong Kong. 

"A petition, a silent rally or march is what we can do in Canberra, and we will send a photo to Hong Kong and to members in 70 places around the world," Mr Nip said. "We had a conversation with the embassy but they did not answer us."

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Marchers said using tear gas on people at the peaceful and orderly protests in Hong Kong was unacceptable. "We are not anti the Chinese government," Mr Nip said. "What we aim for is just the true democracy." 

International news reports said some protesters had agreed to remove barricades to allow access to Hong Kong offices in time for work on Monday, but others were still refusing to leave. 

Hong Kong administrator Leung Chun-ying said police would take any action necessary to allow 3000 government employees to get to work. Mr Leung is still rejecting demands for his resignation.

The protests, led in part by the Hong Kong Federation of Students, have drawn international notice since they began late last month.

Mr Chan said the world was paying attention to the sustained calls for democratic reforms in Hong Kong and that the protest in Canberra might continue.  "It depends on the situation there and how the Hong Kong government decides to communicate with the students, or [if officials] just deny their requests," he said.

Holding elections in which candidates had been vetted by government officials would be undemocratic, Mr Chan said. "It is actually not very fair for the people in Hong Kong because what the government has promised is a real election but it doesn't continue now," he said. 

The Chinese embassy did not respond to requests for comment.