Occupy Movement Founders to Surrender to Hong Kong Police

The three founders of Hong Kong’s Occupy Central civil disobedience group aimed at pushing for political reforms said Tuesday that they would surrender to police and called on student activists to end their street protests to prevent violence.

Occupy Central with Love and Peace (OCLP) founders professors Benny Tai Yiu-ting and Chan Kin-man and pastor Chu Yiu-ming said they would turn themselves in Wednesday to take responsibility for the protests that have shut down parts of the Asian financial center for more than two months.

They “will hand themselves in tomorrow at 3 p.m. at Central Police Station,” according to a tweet by the movement.

Another tweet by the non-violent movement, which demands a fully democratic government in Hong Kong, said citizens hadn’t abandoned their democratic aspirations, although there may be different ideas about whether continued occupation was a way to achieve them.

The movement’s founders also tweeted: “There are different strategies in a democratic movement. We’re very clear our role was to help students. What’s changed now is violence from the government.”

Although the announcement came shortly after student leaders of the protests, also called the umbrella movement because students used umbrellas to shield themselves from rain and pepper spray, said they would regroup, Tai urged them to retreat in light of authorities’ recent attacks on them.

“In the past two weeks, the police have cracked down hard on protestors in the occupied sites,” Tai, a law professor at the University of Hong Kong, told a news conference on Tuesday.

“Our young people have used their bodies to sustain the blows of police batons. Their black and broken bones have brought us the deepest sorrow.

“We respect the students’ and citizens’ determination to fight for democracy, but we are furious at the government’s heartless indifference.

“A government that uses police battalions to maintain its authority is a government that is beyond reason.

“For the sake of the occupiers’ safety and for the sake of our original intention of love and peace, as we prepare to surrender, we three urge the students to retreat, to put down deep roots in the community and transform the movement to extend the spirit of the umbrella movement.”

Hunger strike

On Monday, student leaders said they would begin a hunger strike in a bid to pressure Beijing into allowing full democracy for the city after thousands of pro-democracy activists forced a temporary closure of the government headquarters following clashes with police.

The student leaders announced their “indefinite” hunger strike hours after Hong Kong’s leader Leung Chun-ying warned that police would take “resolute action” against protests.

Police used pepper spray and batons on students trying to storm government headquarters in some of the worst violence since the rallies began in September after Beijing refused to allow a free vote for electing Hong Kong’s leader in 2017.

Despite calls by Occupy Central founders to end the protests, some students said they would continue the mission.

“Now they talk about retreat,” a 24-year-old protestor named Raymond Tsang told Agence France-Presse.

“It is a betrayal of what we have insisted on all along. We should not consider an end to the campaign until there is a solid achievement.”

But Tai said at the press conference: “Surrendering is not an act of cowardice. It is the courage to act on a promise. To surrender is not to fail; it is a silent denunciation of a heartless government.”

Into the background

Tai along with Chan and Baptist minister Chu founded the Occupy Central movement in early 2013 to push for political reforms in the semi-autonomous city, but faded into the background as more radical student leaders stepped to the forefront of the pro-democracy protests.

The main protest camp remains along a stretch of highway in the Admiralty district in central Hong Kong.

Previous attempts to further the movement’s cause through dialogue failed.

Talks between demonstrators and the Hong Kong government had ended in an impasse in October.

In November, three student representatives from the influential Hong Kong Federation of Students—

Alex Chow, Eason Chung and Nathan Law—planned to travel to Beijing to address Chinese Communist Party leaders about their demands for free elections, but they were prevented from from boarding the plane after authorities revoked their travel permits.

Reported by RFA’s Cantonese and Mandarin services. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.


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