Beijing supporters clash with protesters in Hong Kong

Pro-democracy groups warn negotiations in jeopardy 'if the government does not immediately prevent the organised attacks'

Beijing supporters clash with protesters in Hong Kong

Clashes have broken out in various districts of Hong Kong as pro-Beijing groups began intimidating pro-democracy protestors and tearing apart their camps Friday evening local time.  

In the crowded district of Mong Kok, police were unable to stop several hundreds of supporters of Beijing’s rule from smashing up protestors’ tents.

Police had struggled to clear the protest sites following earlier incidents, but security lines broke shortly after 5 p.m. as scuffles intensified as Beijing supporters surrounded the camp, where a student lost consciousness, according to the South China Morning Post.

Pro-democracies groups – including the Hong Kong Federation of Students, Occupy Central with Love and Peace and Scholarism – released a press release at 6:50 p.m., saying: “if the government does not immediately prevent the organised attacks on supporters of the Occupy movement, the students will call off dialogue on political reform with the government.”

Onlookers in Hong Kong expressed to their sadness to the Anadolu Agency at seeing the intimidation used against protestors.

“I am a civil servant. I support the students but I can’t do anything,” a by-stander told AA.

In the heavily built-up area of Causeway Bay, police struggled to separate protesters from a group of around 30 masked men who broke through and began removing the barricades.

Occupy Central supporters have begun streaming into protests sites, where the sixth day of demonstrations started with tensions easing overnight after Hong Kong's leader, chief executive Leung Chun-ying, said he had appointed Carrie Lam, the chief secretary, to negotiate with the protesting students on behalf of the government.

That concession by Leung helped defuse some of the hostilities between the two sides and the night passed peacefully.

On Thursday, tensions had escalated after police - in full view of protesters - carried fresh supplies of tear gas and plastic bullets behind their lines stationed outside Leung's offices.

Leung's announcement came just minutes before the midnight deadline protesters had set for the government to respond to their demands. 

But at the briefing, Leung also said he would not step down, which is one aim of the protesters' bigger goal -- for China's central government to allow the territory to choose its own leader by universal suffrage. 

Hong Kongers go to the polls in 2017 to choose their next chief executive - an election many have accused China of trying to control.  

Some students had blocked Lung Wo Road, which is just a stone's throw from the chief executive's office, Hong Kong-government run broadcaster RTHK reported. 

“I will not resign,” the chief executive said. “I have been saying that we should all follow the Basic Law and work within the framework of the law. Only if we follow the provisions of Basic Law and the decision of the NPC [National People's Congress, China's parliament] can we achieve universal suffrage in 2017.”

In August, Chinese leaders ruled that while Hong Kongers could choose their next chief executive in the 2017 elections, the candidates would have to be approved by Beijing first.

Thursday's briefing unfolded as students massed outside the offices of the chief executive, blocking vehicular access to the building. Metal barriers separated the protesters from hundreds of police officers who stood in formation.

Leung said that the government was willing to discuss constitutional development with the public as long as it was done peacefully. Standing by Leung's side at the briefing, Lam said she would meet with students leaders as soon as possible - a promise the protestors responded to with cheers.

The Federation of Students expressed in a statement that it was looking forward to the meeting with Lam. 

Occupy Central with Love and Peace (OCLP) also welcomed the news by saying in a statement, “OCLP hopes the talks can provide a turning point in the current political stalemate."

However, OCLP continued to call for Leung's resignation: “We reiterate our view that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is the one responsible for the stalemate, and that he must step down. In order to achieve real universal suffrage, the National People's Congress Standing Committee must withdraw its decision on Hong Kong's political reform.”

Hong Kong -- an international financial center -- was a British colony from 1842 to 1997. 

On Monday, a spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying said: "Hong Kong is China's Hong Kong.Hong Kong is purely our internal affair."

The non-violent movement is seen as the biggest challenge to Chinese rule in Hong Kong since Beijing resumed sovereignty in 1997.

Some observers worry that if the protests persist and the Hong Kong police again fail to disperse the demonstrators, the Chinese military -- known as the People’s Liberation Army -- could be ordered to intervene. 

That scenario revives memories of the killing of student protesters in Tiananmen Square, in the heart of Beijing, in June 1989. The 1989 movement, initiated by students to push for a democratic China, ended when the military shot dead hundreds, perhaps more than 1,000.

AA

 

Last Mod: 03 Ekim 2014, 16:49
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