Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Police violence against students "has turned out to be a boomerang for the government. The sight of agents charging young people, all peaceful with hands raised, has shocked people. Ordinary people are now joining in the protests, not only in the central part of the city, but also at crucial points on Kowloon Peninsula, which has been blocked by protesters," said a Catholic source in Hong Kong, anonymous for security reasons.
The use of force and tear gas by riot police represents a watershed in Hong Kong's fight to wrestle democracy from Beijing. "Although the majority of the population really wants freedom from mainland China, many were initially lukewarm to the idea of joining the protests by Occupy Central," the source explained. "Now things have changed, people have been really shocked by what happened and they want to make their voices heard."
Occupy Central is a campaign for full democracy that has turned into a movement over the past year. It has staged public demonstrations and set up roadblocks to push a reform agenda for the former British colony.
According to the source, police and local authorities "thought they could settle everything between Saturday and Sunday night, mopping things up cleanly and painlessly. Instead, today protests got underway with even greater resolve. Kowloon, Nathan Road, Mong Kok, and Central are occupied. No single group is behind it. There is no single organisation. It is the voice of the people in the streets."
Occupy's resumed its peaceful protests after the National People's Congress on 1 September effectively ended all chances real democratic reform in Hong Kong.
After the police forcefully removed and arrested some student leaders, Occupy leaders decided to take to the streets to show their support, an action that police met with more violence.
The authorities in Beijing, the source said, "established a set of rules for Hong Kong that leave no room for manoeuvre or negotiation. However, what has angered people the most was the behaviour of the chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, who acted in a contemptuous manner towards the students and the protesters."
"Now the only way out is for Leung to resign. China might sacrifice him to save face and pacify the situation." Still, this leaves little hope for the future.
"I do not think Beijing can back off on reform; however, it has to give something to the people. Leung could not or would not properly assess the local situation. This is why if he quit, this could lead to peaceful negotiations."