An official of the Hong Kong government has threatened pro-democracy protesters that they will be arrested if they do not move from two locations where they have been camped for more than six weeks. Chief Secretary Carrie Lam said there will be no further dialogue with the protesters,made up of students, who have continued to make more demands as the government tries to bring the peaceful standoff to an end.
The country’s High Court authorized their removal from the two sites last week. The protests, which started on September 28, were sparked by the requirement by the Chinese central government put in place saying that those vying for leadership positions in Hong Kong in 2017 will have to be screened by a team selected by the Chinese government. The protesters want the nominations to be open.
Previous efforts to clear the protesters from the streets have been unsuccessful. They have resulted in increasing the number of demonstrators. One of the protestors, Pa Sha, from the Socialist Action group, said clearing demonstrators from the streets would not end the protests. He anticipated moments of low tide, but expected a recurrence when the legislative council meets to vote on electoral reform .
As the police prepare to make arrests, three officials of a group calling itself ‘Occupy Central’ movement said they will surrender themselves to law enforcement as a sign of civil disobedience to show that they still respect the law.
The protesters have come up with a way to preserve the legacy of the demonstrations through art. Sampson Wong, an official of the Umbrella Movement Visual Archives and Research Collective, said that art has helped the movement exceed its initial goal of demanding the right to choose their leaders without influence from the government of China. He said the movement had expanded to reflect the daily lives of the people of Hong Kong, giving them the opportunity to demonstrate their creative abilities.
Willa Yip has erected a station at the campsite where he draws portraits of protesters. He has so far completed 300 caricatures. Yip told Voice of America that the portraits will give the protesters an opportunity to appreciate their involvement in the demonstrations when they are older.
A poll released by the University of Hong Kong this week shows that 70 percent of those involved in the protests want the demonstrations to continue. Seventy nine percent of those interviewed who have not participated in the demonstrations say the protesters should end the exercise.
Leung Chun-Ying, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, recently accused some foreign governments of supporting the protesters. He did not name them. President Obama denied that the U.S played a role in supporting the protesters. Speaking at a news conference in Beijing on Tuesday, the president said Hong Kong citizens were entitled to freedom of expression. He added that the people in the region had a right to decide the method for selecting their candidates for the forthcoming elections.
President Xi Jinping of China supported the threat by the Hong Kong official to arrest protesters on Wednesday when he termed the demonstrations as illegal. His comments signalled that his government is growing impatient with the protesters’ presence on the streets.
By Benedicto Ateku