World Bulletin/News Desk
Police cleared further barricades at Hong Kong’s Mong Kok protest site Wednesday following a night of cat-and-mouse tactics that saw around 100 protesters arrested.
Officers moved into Nathan Road just after rush-hour to clear barriers and tents, arresting further protesters, including student leaders Joshua Wong and Lester Shum.
Overnight police had used force to prevent thousands of young protesters from blocking new roads after bailiffs had cleared a smaller section of the protest site in Argyle Street on Tuesday.
Protesters who refused to disperse were hosed with pepper spray by officers on mobile platforms carrying tanks of the solution. Police charged at demonstrators, lashing out with batons, and many journalists complained of being pushed and manhandled by police.
Local media reported that around 4,000 officers had been deployed in the operation.
By daybreak, police blocked side streets off Nathan Road to prevent protesters from leaving or joining the demonstration and setting up new blockades nearby.
Moving south along the road, a main thoroughfare of Kowloon, police shoved protesters out of the way as they ripped down tents, driving around 1,000 protesters off the 1 kilometer-long street in an hour.
A single lane of Nathan Road was reopened to traffic just after 13.00 local time (07.00 Turkish time).
Student Wil Mak accused police of abusing the legal system. He told the South China Morning Post: “If they want to clear us, they could announce we're illegal and make arrests. There is no need to use the injunction order to hide their intention.”
Wong, the leader of Scholarism, and Shum, deputy secretary-general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, were detained for alleged contempt of court.
Scholarism's Facebook page also carried a message that Szeto Tze-long from the Chinese University of Hong Kong Student Union, and Raphael Wong Ho-ming, of the League of Social Democrats, were also arrested.
Police said Wednesday that 116 people had so far been arrested in the Mong Kok clearance on suspicion of unlawful assembly, obstructing police and possession of weapons.
The Federation of Students said it would escalate the protests if police did not stop using force in Mong Kok. “If the police continue to take such violent actions to evict people, then we will consider other steps to continue the protest,” student leader Yvonne Leung has said.
Kenny Cheung, a 40-year-old English teacher told The Anadolu Agency: “We are fighting for democracy, against China, against the police who are very violent today and last night.”
Later Wednesday, police said that seven policemen have been arrested in connection with the beating of a prominent pro-democracy protester in October during efforts to clear an underpass near the Admiralty protest camp.
A statement said the officers - already suspended - were detained on suspicion of "assault resulting in grievous body harm."
Civic Party protester Ken Tsang was filmed being beaten for several minutes after being led away from the site in handcuffs.
The protesters’ central demand is for the 2017 chief executive election to be open to all candidates. The central government, backed by the Hong Kong executive, proposes candidates are screened by a pro-Beijing committee.
The barricades, around Nathan Road and Argyle Street, had been closed to traffic for nearly two months. Injunctions were granted by the High Court for the occupation sites to be cleared after local businesses complained of a loss of revenue.
Last week bailiffs cleared part of the Admiralty site around government offices before turning their attention to Mong Kok, a working class district across Victoria Harbour, on Tuesday. A third site at Causeway Bay is unaffected by court orders.
The territory's Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok urged protesters to leave Nathan Road immediately. “If anyone is obstructing roads or disrupting public order, the police will take action decisively to resume public order and to protect public safety,” he said.
In the past the use of force against the protesters has produced a public backlash, with people flocking to the protest sites to show their solidarity with the demonstrations and their distaste for police tactics.
But support for the occupation has been slipping in recent weeks with surveys showing the public favors an end to the disruption.
Last Mod: 26 Kasım 2014, 15:23