Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - At least 20 bailiffs, dozens of workers in white gloves and thousands of police (about 3 thousand) this morning began to clear the Occupy Central site at the intersection of Argyle Street and Nathan Road, Mong Kok area, a commercial and tourist district on Kowloon Peninsula.
The area had been occupied by the pro-democracy movement since the end of September in a non-violent demonstration demanding the government of Hong Kong and China grant greater democracy for the territory. In late August, China decreed that the people of Hong Kong could vote with universal suffrage, for the future head of the executive, but Beijing reserved its right to control the quality and the number of candidates.
The protests swelled when hundreds of
thousands of people came out in
solidarity with the occupiers, who spent the night sleeping and occupying the streets and junctions.
But the occupation created transport difficulties for buses, taxis, schools, commerce and a bus company was granted a Supreme Court order to clear the area. In recent weeks, there have also been sporadic clashes between the youth movement and groups of residents, or even mafia gangs sent from China.
The democratic message has penetrated people's
consciousness and has been heard by the
government of Hong Kong and Beijing, but the
authorities are unshakable in their will to push forward with controlled
elections to avoid - as the territory's governor claims - that poor people can have a
say in government.
Over time, public support and participation in the protests weakened. However the consistently peaceful and non-violent nature of the protests should be underscored, despite one unfortunate episode. Even this morning, when police were clearing Mong Kok, the young people were shouting slogans like "We want real elections!", "We want true universal suffrage!", but remained calm before the destruction of the barricades and tents. Moreover, if young people had shown resistance, the police would have arrested them.
Now what remains to be seen is whether police will arrest and charge those who have illegally occupied public land. Some members of the Occupy Central movement, and even Card. Joseph Zen said that if they go ahead with arrests then they will voluntarily hand themselves over to the authorities for having taken part in the demonstrations