After HK Protests Cleared, Small Group Storms Legislature

Following a largely peaceful clearance by bailiffs of a part of the protest site at Admiralty, Hong Kong, a small group of protesters attacked the Legislative Council office building, breaking glass windows. James Pomfret at Reuters reports:

The flare-up came just hours after court bailiffs managed to clear part of a protest camp in the heart of the city that has been occupied by pro-democracy demonstrators for nearly two months, while leaving most of the main protest site intact.

About 100 riot police with helmets, batons and shields stood guard outside the government building in the early hours of Wednesday, facing off with protesters who are demanding free elections for the city’s next leader in 2017.

“Police retreat!” the protesters chanted.

It was the first time protesters had broken into a key public building, defying the expectations of many political analysts who had predicted that Hong Kong’s most tenacious and protracted protest movement would slowly wind down. [Source]

Observers posted photos of the scene on Twitter:

Live footage from the Legislative Council building:

The court injunction which permitted the clearing of protesters at Admiralty also covers the Mong Kok neighborhood, which has been the scene of more violence during the protests. Hong Kong police have said that bailiffs may be called up to Mong Kok as soon as Wednesday. From Samuel Chan, Alan Yu and Chris Lau at the South China Morning Post:

“Those who are well-behaved will leave on their own of course, but those who are not will put up a fight,” the source said.

Police will discuss the operation today after a review of the bailiffs’ actions in Admiralty.

The occupied zone in Mong Kok may not be cleared in one go.

Protesters on Argyle Street may be cleared tomorrow, before the greater number on Nathan Road are tackled, the source said. [Source]

Meanwhile, at graduation ceremonies, students who attempted to show support for the protest movement on stage were not presented with their diplomas during the ceremony. Michael Forsythe reports for the New York Times:

Umbrellas popped up on at least two occasions during the four-day, rolling ceremony. On Saturday, video captured one male student, who was receiving a bachelor’s degree in social sciences, opening an umbrella as he stepped onto the stage. Professor Chan pointed to it, said something inaudible, and the student closed it. Professor Chan refused to shake the student’s outstretched hand and signaled him off the stage without handing him his diploma. The student then opened the umbrella again to cheers from the audience.

On Monday it happened again. According to an account in The South China Morning Post, a student knelt on stage to present Professor Chan with a folded yellow umbrella. The outcome was the same: no diploma. The newspaper reported that the students were able to pick up their certificates after the ceremonies.

In an emailed statement, the university said that it allowed students to display umbrellas, posters and ribbons expressing their political sentiments at the ceremony, but that carrying them on to the stage was “inappropriate.” [Source]

New York Times reporter Chris Buckley tells PRI’s The World that even though street protests may be declining, by force and by choice, the students have not lost the fight:

So far, Beijing has refused to back down. But Buckley says that doesn’t necessarily mean the protesters are losing their battle.

“Although there’s no assurance that China is going to give way, there’s a broader audience of people listening to these demands,” he says.

Beijing also fears that “protests could inspire copycat actions and sympathetic actions within mainland China,” according to Buckley. And now, with young Hong Kongers receiving a kind of “apprenticeship in protests,” he says, “that’s going to have consequences in the future.” [Source]

Read more about the Hong Kong protest movement, via CDT.

November 18, 2014 2:20 PM
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