Last Occupy Central Die-Hards Face Eviction From Hong Kong Street

hong-kong-tim-mei-avenue-tents-june21-2015.jpg Dozens of tents remain on Tim Mei Avenue next to the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, June 21, 2015.

Authorities in Hong Kong handed an eviction notice to a group of die-hard Umbrella Movement protesters on Monday, following the defeat of a Beijing-backed political reform plan at the hands of pan-democratic lawmakers, who dismissed it as "fake universal suffrage."

Some of the protesters have been camped outside the city's Legislative Council (LegCo) on Tim Mei Avenue since the start of the 79-day Occupy Central mass civil disobedience movement last year.

The deadline was announced formally in notices nailed up at the site by Hong Kong's Lands Department, but some residents say they won't leave until the city has a system of "genuine universal suffrage" agreed.

A protester surnamed Mok said he is preparing to stay in the spirit of Sept. 28, when thousands of student-led protesters armed with goggles and umbrellas faced off with ranks of riot police firing tear gas and pepper spray at the crowd.

"I have been here more than 200 days in total," Mok told RFA on Monday. "Today is the 267th day, beginning on Sept. 28."

"[I am here] to overturn fake universal suffrage, but we still have a long way to go in the fight for a fair public nomination system and the right to stand as a candidate," he said.

"Injustices are still taking place, and the liars are still telling their lies on TV," he said. "I think we still need some form of symbolic action here."

He said more than 20 people had remained outside LegCo since the broader Occupy movement shut up shop.

"We won't put up any resistance when they clear us out," Mok said. "But some of us will come back again after they're done with the clearance of this street."

Pan-democratic LegCo member Fernando Cheung said he felt the clearance of the tent village was a shame.

"I think it's a shame, because it is an expression of public opinion, and it doesn't cause a lot of inconvenience to the general public here on Tim Mei Avenue," Cheung said.

"If they're not causing an obstruction to anyone, they should be allowed to continue expressing their views here."

"I don't think it's reasonable for the police to clear them away," he added.

Cheung called on Hong Kong people to come out in support of genuine universal suffrage again during the traditional July 1 protest marking the 18th anniversary of the handover from British rule.

"I hope to see even more citizens demonstrating on July 1 ... and I think that civil society groups will continue to call on people to come out and express their views," he said.

More localized campaigns

Public anger at the police response to the initial Occupy protests brought hundreds of thousands of people out onto major highways in downtown Hong Kong at the Umbrella Movement's height.

But as Beijing and Hong Kong officials declined to offer concessions, and cracks became apparent in the Occupy leadership, the number of protesters dwindled to a few hundred.

The last main Occupy site was cleared from a three-lane highway in Admiralty in early December.

Unofficial spokesman Dang Four said many protesters were getting ready to leave for good, however, after seeing the defeat of the electoral reform bill by 28 votes to eight last Thursday.

"We have already done what we wanted to do, and the [reform package] has been vetoed," Dang said. "Now we will leave, because it's meaningless to stay here."

He said more localized campaigns would be a better way to continue the pro-democracy movement in future.

"We won't get this done by sleeping on the pavement," he said. "There's no concrete result."

"But there's plenty of publicity work we can do by setting up a stand in the districts, and by running activities," Dang said. "That will be more effective."

A protester surnamed Chan told RFA: "Now that the government's reform plan has been voted down, our job here is done."

"I will continue to support the Umbrella Movement for universal suffrage, by making donations to political parties and civic groups,"
Chan said.

Under the terms of an Aug. 31 ruling by China's parliament, the National People's Congress (NPC), Hong Kong's five million eligible voters could have cast a ballot in the 2017 election for the next chief executive, but only candidates pre-approved by Beijing could run.

Pan-democratic LegCo members, who hold 27 seats out of 70, had vowed all along to vote against the plan, and effective vetoed the measure that the NPC said needed two-thirds of the vote to pass.

China has repeatedly slammed the Occupy Central movement as illegal, the folly of "radical democrats" and instigated by "hostile foreign forces."

Reported by Dai Weisen for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Xin Lin for the Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.


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