Hong Kong protests: Arrests as Admiralty site is cleared


High profile arrestsMore than 200 activists have been arrested in Hong Kong after police cleared the main pro-democracy protest camp at Admiralty.

The dismantling passed off peacefully, but many activists vowed to continue with other forms of civil disobedience.

Police began their operation early on Thursday in what is widely seen as the final act in the long-running protests.

The demonstrations have dwindled in recent weeks from the tens of thousands who turned out in September.

Activists want Beijing to allow free elections for the territory’s next leader in 2017. China says everyone can vote but a pro-Beijing committee will screen candidates.

High profile arrests

Watch: Key moments as Hong Kong police clear the protest camp
Police officers started to clear the camp and dismantle tents after issuing orders for protesters to vacate the “occupied area” within 30 minutes or face arrest.

Among those arrested were opposition Democratic Party founder Martin Lee, student leader Nathan Law, media tycoon Jimmy Lai and singer Denise Ho.

The bailiffs were the first in, enforcing a court order to remove barricades on the outer perimeter. They made light work of it. Then, as promised, the police took over, chanting as they moved slowly forward, riot shields hanging ready at their sides, and approaching, in their hundreds, from all sides.

The camp, though, was already largely deserted, with only a few hundred remaining to make their last stand. They were arrested, one by one, hoisted aloft and carried horizontally, face forward and shouting defiantly for “real universal suffrage”. Within a matter of hours the camp was no more, as the steel jaws of the disposal trucks crunched up the tents and the other flotsam and jetsam of protest life.

In the end, though, this is a protest movement that has been vanquished not by force, but by fatigue. It had already run out of steam in the face of China’s refusal to make any concessions. But for the protesters, while their unique public space, carved out amongst the sky scrapers, is finished, the fight for democracy – they insist – is not.
Earlier in the morning, bailiffs read out a final warning to protesters shortly before workers, backed by police, moved in and began dismantling barricades in one section of the site, using box cutters to remove ties.

Footage from the scene showed police tearing down supply and first aid tents, as well as a study area used by students.

Trucks with cranes were also used to pick up debris left behind from the broken barriers, plastic sheets and umbrellas.

Categories: Asia

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