Passwords and petrol bombs: We spoke to the Sussex students being sent back to the UK from Hong Kong

Sussex are covering all costs


Last week, it was announced that University of Sussex students studying in Hong Kong were going to be called home as a result of confrontations between protesters and police.

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Speaking to The Sussex Tab, Yazz James, who is currently in her third year at Sussex, said that prior to the announcement, "Sussex were contacting us via emails asking if we were safe and stated that if we wished, we could go home with their support".

Shortly after this, "CUHK [Chinese University of Hong Kong] announced the cancellation of the rest of the semester".

Yazz described the atmosphere on campus, saying it was "incredible". She said that by Thursday last week, "campus was almost solely run by students and protestors…by then others had also come with donations and aid to support everyone too".

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Speaking of her experience packing up and leaving campus, she said "It's important to note that the protestors were all concerned with our safety and were keen to help us leave."

"They asked us if we needed help with our bags and once we reached the exit, they spoke to local volunteer drivers who helped us get back to safer parts of the city. The drivers wouldn't accept any money, which I think shows just how kind Hong Kongers are".

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Speaking of what happened next Yazz explained "We got cabs to the hotel that Sussex had booked us into and I stayed there for a night before going to the airport the following morning. Sussex are covering the costs of everything – flights, cabs, hotels".

When we asked Yazz about how she felt towards being sent home, she said "I feel heartbroken that I've had to leave. I absolutely fell in love with the place and the people".

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"I'm incredibly upset at the lack of media coverage of the situation as well as what seems to be a lack of care from the UK as a whole. Most of my local friends at CUHK were begging me to speak out and raise awareness, so I hope I can keep these conversations going."

She added, "I'm privileged to be able to fly back home and continue elsewhere, when others don't have the choice."

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Another student shared the fears of rumours which were being spread across CUHK campus. Soraya Hossaine, tells The Sussex Tab "There were several rumours, like the water was supposedly contaminated by the tear gases thrown by police.

"There were also rumours that the police could search our rooms without a warrant which massively increased fear levels for international students."

Soraya added that "CUHK have not confirmed yet whether second term is cancelled, however if term begins as planned on January 6th, in order to resume our studies we have to fly back to Hong Kong."

Sean Wayne, another student who spoke to The Sussex Tab described his eventful journey to get past the barricade, where he said "a bunch of a suppliers providing food, water, clothes and gas masks and helmets for the protestors to pick up and use if they needed". He also said if you got closer to the barricade you could see "petrol bomb making stations."

Once he had finally managed to pass, he told us that Sussex organised a pick-up service where he had to provide pictures of himself and his passport.

"I was told I was going to be given a password and that someone would come a pick me up from the hotel lobby at 3pm and would say 'QUEEN' and I would have to respond with 'KNIGHT' so they knew it was me, that was honestly the highlight of my whole trip to the airport."