Rival student groups clash in Aussie varsity over HK protests

A screengrab from a video posted on social media shows students at The University of Queensland clashing at an event organised by Hong Kong international students to support the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Organisers alleged that pro-China s
A screengrab from a video posted on social media shows students at The University of Queensland clashing at an event organised by Hong Kong international students to support the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Organisers alleged that pro-China students gate-crashed the event.

CANBERRA • A student protest at an Australian university in support of pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong turned violent with pro-China students clashing with pro-democracy students.

The incident took place on Wednesday afternoon at The University of Queensland in Brisbane. Video snippets of the skirmish posted on social media show a few men kicking and punching one another.

The university released a statement later saying it had to request police support "in response to safety concerns resulting from a student-initiated protest on campus", and those involved in the protest were moved away from the scene. No one was arrested.

Organisers alleged that the pro-China students gate-crashed the event organised by Hong Kong international students to support the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong.

Ms Georgia Milroy, president of the student union, said the scene was "quite scary". "There was some violence that did occur," she said.

Mr Nilsson Jones, an editor of the university's student magazine Semper Floreat, said pro-China students tore up signs in a violent outburst. In the video footage he and others posted, people in the crowd are heard yelling "free Hong Kong", while some others are seen playing nationalist Chinese songs and chanting "China is great".

According to Australian government data, there are 693,750 foreign students in the country, with 30 per cent of them coming from China.

The Australian student protest comes after weeks of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, several of which have turned violent.

DPA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 26, 2019, with the headline 'Rival student groups clash in Aussie varsity over HK protests'. Subscribe