Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Protesters Split After Call to RetreatPosted: October 5, 2014
Amid Few Leader Directives a Mood of Resignation
HONG KONG—An absence of clear directives from organizers threw pro-democracy protests into confusion as some demonstrators called a retreat from two stronghold protest areas on Sunday evening.
“We are not afraid of the government and we are not afraid of the police. We just don’t want to see any more violent acts against residents.”
Many protesters ignored the call to decamp to the city’s main protest site near government offices, which came as the clock ticked closer to a government ultimatum to clear the streets.
But the division in the ranks appeared to drain strength from the crowds.
“They don’t represent me. It’s my own decision to come here to demonstrate and I’ll stay until the government answers our calls.”
— A 22-year-old university graduate, who identified himself only as Tin
In Mong Kok, a working-class neighborhood, police appeared to control the barricades leading to a crucial intersection where protesters had set up camp and where some of them seemed ready to make a last stand. One speaker said, “Tonight we’re outnumbered. We’re going to lose.”
“Frankly, I haven’t been able to sleep well… I’m worried that we will be on the verge of more serious incidents if this continues.”
— Hong Kong Financial Secretary John Tsang
Protesters holding microphones and speaking to crowds and television reporters in Mong Kok and in the shopping district of Causeway Bay tried to get crowds to leave and join protests at the Admiralty government offices, the epicenter in the 10-day wave of protests.
For much of Sunday, leaders of two student groups and activist movement Occupy Central were holed up in meetings to form a strategy on whether to call off or continue protests before the start of the work week Monday. An Occupy Central spokesman attributed the decision to pull back in Mong Kok and Causeway Bay to protesters, not the organizers.
Late Sunday evening, the Hong Kong Federation of Students, one of the organizers, said the pro-democracy demonstrations would continue but that it would start discussions with the government to prepare for official talks.
Alex Chow, head of the group, said planning for the meeting with Hong Kong’s No. 2 official, Carrie Lam, is under way, but he stressed that the talks will only take place if the government fairly handles any violence in the occupied areas. The group’s vice president, Lester Shum, said that “if the Hong Kong police forcibly clear the scene, the dialogue will be very likely to call off.”
Joshua Wong, who heads the student group Scholarism, said in an interview Sunday there was no need for protesters to leave Causeway Bay and Mong Kok. He didn’t elaborate.
—Jenny W. Hsu, Joanne Chiu and Enda Curran contributed to this article.
- You: Calls mount for Hong Kong protesters to retreat (latimes.com)
- Updates From Hong Kong Protests on Oct. 5 (news.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Hong Kong protesters threaten talks boycott (aljazeera.com)
- URGENT – Hong Kong Protesters Moving (wdsu.com)
- Hong Kong lawkmakers urge end to protest as deadline looms (thanhniennews.com)
- WRAPUP 3-Hong Kong protesters pull back from some areas, fear crackdown in city centre (uk.reuters.com)
- Locations of the Hong Kong protests (telegraph.co.uk)
- Hong Kong protests: Protesters clear out from Mong Kok in significant breakthough (straitstimes.com)
- In Hong Kong, Protesters Appear To Remove Some Blockades (wnyc.org)
- Hong Kong Protesters Fall Back From Gov’t HQ (newser.com)