Hundreds of students in Hong Kong’s Chinese University turned what was billed as an orientation event for newcomers into an anti-government rally ahead of next weeks planned class boycott, according to reports on Thursday.

Many students wore black T-shirts, yellow helmets and face masks as they gathered on Wednesday at the University Mall on the Sha Tin campus, popularly known as the “Million Boulevard”, the South China Morning Post reported.

The University’s student union said as many as 1,000 students and newcomers had joined the event, where they chanted anti-government slogans and voiced anger over police use of force on protesters.

The university had earlier said it would respect free speech and academic freedom, but hoped students who took part in the class boycott would also respect the decision of others to attend classes.

Wednesday’s rally came ahead of a marathon class boycott due to start next week, which is jointly organised by student unions of 10 local universities.

Last week, tens of thousands of people gathered on top of Hong Kong’s Lion Rock to shine lights across the city in solidarity with the city which has been shaken by anti-government protests for almost three months.

An estimated 210,000 people made a human chain across Hong Kong in the latest anti-government protest, whilst the outdoor community emulated the scenes on top of Lion Rock.

The city had appeared to have pulled back from a nosedive into violence, with the last serious clashes taking place a week and a half ago just after the city’s airport was paralysed by demonstrators.

On Suinday, at least 29 people have been detained for participating in a pro-democracy protest march in Hong Kong which led to violent clashes between police and the demonstrators.

The demonstrations were triggered by a controversial bill which would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, but have evolved into a call for wider democratic reforms and a halt to sliding freedoms.