Hong Kong police clear protest camp

Hong KongHong Kong police are arresting pro-democracy activists and clearing the main protest camp at Admiralty, after more than two months of demonstrations.

Many left as bailiffs and police removed the camp’s barricades but some vowed to stay despite police warnings.

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

The number of protesters has dwindled in recent weeks from the tens of thousands who turned out in September.

They 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.

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.

As police approached the last remaining protesters, Alex Chow, head of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, rallied the crowds, saying the fight was not over, AP reports.

Meanwhile, a dozen people who opposed the protests turned up to cheer on the police, the South China Morning Post reports.

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.

The clearance is the result of a court order obtained by a bus company which says the protests have disrupted its business.

While the order covered three portions of the Admiralty site, including the main Connaught Road area, Hong Kong police spokesman Cheung Tak-keung said officers would also clear. He said they would clear away barricades from a second protest site at Causeway Bay “at an appropriate time”. About 20 people remain there, the South China Morning Post reports.

Workers in white hats started cutting into barricades as the clearance operation began Some pro-democracy politicians joined the students at the site and academics and a police watchdog were monitoring the clearance operation.

Some protesters, however, packed up their tents yesterday dawned.

“I’ll probably leave just before the action because my job would be difficult if my name was recorded by police,” one 29-year-old protester told AFP news agency. —

BBC

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