500 Arrests After Hundreds of Thousands Occupy Central Hong Kong

Search form

500 Arrests After Hundreds of Thousands Occupy Central Hong Kong

500 Arrests After Hundreds of Thousands Occupy Central Hong Kong
Thu, 7/3/2014 - by Jonathan Kaiman
This article originally appeared on The Guardian

Hong Kong police have arrested more than 500 protesters for illegally "occupying" a street in the city's central business district, hours after hundreds of thousands of residents gathered for the city's biggest pro-democracy demonstration in recent history.

While the arrested protesters represented a wide cross-section of Hong Kong society, most of those arrested were students who had pledged to flood the street until 8am on Wednesday, despite vows by police to take "decisive action" if the "unlawful assembly" were to proceed.

Police began bundling away protesters at 3am on Wednesday, and continued until the end of the sit-in, when the remaining crowd – about 50 people – let out a cheer and dispersed on its own. No one has yet been formally charged.

Videos online showed blue-uniformed police carrying protesters by their arms and legs, and pushing them away on wheelchairs.

"The reason we are here is for universal suffrage and the future of our democracy," one protester shouted, according to local media.

Some protesters have been accused of "participating in an unauthorised assembly" and "obstructing police," Reuters reported; about 50 protesters have been released without charge.

"The operation is still ongoing and police express regret over the uncooperative and illegal acts of the participants of the public meeting," said a statement posted to the Hong Kong police force's website on Wednesday.

Jonathan Lam, an attorney who is giving pro bono legal counsel to the detained protesters, said that about 300 have already been released – some on bail, most with only a warning – and that the remaining 200 will likely be released soon.

"This is probably the first time in Hong Kong, or at least one of the first, that [the police] have arrested such a massive number of people on one occasion," he said, adding that the police were "confused" and disorganized, and neglected to give the detainees an adequate amount of food and water.

"I just hope the remaining 200 people will be released very soon, and that the next time the police organise such a big arrest, they'll be more prepared," he said.

The July 1 protest is held each year in Hong Kong to mark the anniversary of the former British colony's return to mainland control in 1997. The protest's organizer, the Civil Human Rights Front, said 510,000 people marched at its peak, while police estimated a headcount of 98,600. The protest was spirited but peaceful, and no incidents of violence or vandalism were reported.

Beijing controls Hong Kong under the principle of "one country, two systems," granting the region a range of civil liberties and independent institutions that do not exist on the mainland. Yet many residents feel that as Beijing's economic and political clout grows, their independence has begun to wane.

The two student groups who organized the sit-in – Scholarism and the Hong Kong Federation of Students – described the act as a "rehearsal" for Occupy Central with Love and Peace (OCLP), a larger civil disobedience movement planned for later this year.

On Sunday night, OCLP wrapped up an unofficial "referendum" in which nearly 800,000 people – more than 10% of Hong Kong's population – voted. The vast majority of them requested the ability to choose their own top leader by a process of public nomination, a possibility which Beijing categorically rejects.

China's state media did not cover Tuesday's protest. The state broadcaster CCTV said in a brief report that Hong Kong residents gathered en masse to celebrate the anniversary of the 1997 handover, with 300,000 people participating in about 17 events throughout the city.

The People's Daily, a Communist party mouthpiece, reaffirmed in a front-page editorial on Wednesday that it would require the leaders of Hong Kong to be "patriots" who "love the country, and love Hong Kong."

Originally published by The Guardian

Article Tabs

FarmDrop and Open Food Network stress the desire to create positive, systemic social change that disrupts the existing dominance of supermarket provision of food.

Republicans are arguing that Wall Street should have the constitutional right to influence politicians and the investment decisions those politicians make on behalf of pension funds and pensioners.

As the outrage in Ferguson takes on new forms and becomes less openly confrontational, the shooting of Michael Brown has started a nationwide dialogue about race, class and American law enforcement.

The vote on Independence is a moment of unprecedented possibility for Scotland to peacefully reject the U.K.'s failed neoliberal agenda.

Grassroots organizations that once made American democracy strong plummeted in the Reagan era – when political parties stopped representing the views of constituents and turned instead to money.

Charlie Hardy, the 75-year-old former Catholic priest now running for Senate, wants to halt NSA spying on ordinary citizens and overturn Citizens United with a Constitutional amendment.

Posted 6 days 7 hours ago

If we want a healthy society that follows its laws and applies them equally to everyone, we must demand a full investigation and criminal prosecutions for everyone involved in the mortgage backed securities fiasco.

Posted 3 days 22 hours ago

The vote on Independence is a moment of unprecedented possibility for Scotland to peacefully reject the U.K.'s failed neoliberal agenda.

Posted 3 days 3 hours ago

From clashes during the Occupy movement to violence this month in Ferguson, Mo., researchers say protests get ugly when officers use aggressive tactics, dress in riot gear and line up like military.

Posted 6 days 7 hours ago

FarmDrop and Open Food Network stress the desire to create positive, systemic social change that disrupts the existing dominance of supermarket provision of food.

Posted 3 days 3 hours ago
In Arizona, America's Largest Prison Corporation Helps Arrest Students

Recent events in the central Arizona town of Casa Grande show the hand of private corrections corporations reaching into the classroom.



Inequality? We Need a New Word

When inequality and social injustice reach the extreme forms we increasingly see today, we need new language to describe it. Yes, we have growing inequality, racism and social exclusion.

The populist combined the leveling spirit of a kind of new New Deal with a model of social change based on redistributed wealth and communal organization.

Last week it became clear that the head of the CIA, John Brennan lied when he said: “As far as the allegations of CIA hacking into Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth.

The contested mountaintop.

The Mountaintop Justice Festival brought hundreds of citizens to one contested mountaintop in southern Vermont to challenge the Vermont Public Service Board, the body responsible for regulating big energy utilities in the state.

Sign Up