11/19/2014, 00.00
HONG KONG - CHINA
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Occupy Central condemns attack on Hong Kong's parliament

by Paul Wang
Four of the protesters, some of whom used metal barriers and bricks to break LegCo windows, have been arrested. This is the first violent incident in almost 50 days of peaceful and calm protest. The action was apparently prompted by rumours concerning a new law cracking down on the Internet. Occupy Central reiterates the non-violent nature of the pro-democracy movement.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Members of Occupy Central and several pro-democracy lawmakers strongly condemned the attack that took place in the early hours of this morning at the Legislative Council (LegCo) building by some young demonstrators. Now they fear the government will feel even more emboldened to suppress demands for democracy.

At around 1am, a group of masked people using metal barriers and other objects, including broken bricks, tried to break the glass doors outside the canteen at the LegCo complex. Some pro-democracy lawmakers tried to stop them but ended up bruised.

Police moved in quickly, using pepper spray and shields to break up the protest. However, the standoff lasted hours until four hooligans were arrested.

Last night's was the first violent incident since the otherwise peaceful protest movement began almost 50 days.

Since the end of September, members of the Student Federation, the Scholarism activist group, and Occupy Central have been camped out in a number of areas in the city to protest Beijing's attempt to muzzle Hong Kong democracy and control the election to the chief executive office.

Protest action is partly the product of frustration with the government, which has refused to discuss the election process.

Last night's violent action was apparently sparked by (false) news that the LegCo would meet today to vote on a law to control the Internet. For some pro-democracy activists, protesters have been "misled".

"The use of violence is definitely against the umbrella movement's emphasis" on "using peaceful, non-violent means to fight for full democracy," said Alan Leong, leader of the Civic Party.

Since it began, the Occupy Central movement's goal has been universal suffrage and free elections.

In a statement, it said "those who stormed [the LegGo] did not discuss their objective and strategy with other occupiers, yet they used false information [on a copyright bill] to mislead the crowd, so that occupiers were involved in the incident without being well-informed beforehand."

The group went on to say that supporters of the "Umbrella movement", which refers to protesters' use of umbrellas as shields against pepper spray and rain, must insist on non-violent action, so that the government will not find "any excuse to clear the scene in a violent manner".

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