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Hong Kong police to clear main protest camps in Admiralty district

By Kahon Chan in Hong Kong (China Daily) Updated: 2014-12-11 07:53

Hong Kong police officers are expected to move into the main protest camps outside government headquarters in the Admiralty district on Thursday to reopen traffic on a coastal thoroughfare that has been blocked for more than 10 weeks.

Court bailiffs and workers will tear down obstacles at the occupation site, starting at the edge nearest Central district, as they execute a court order issued on Monday. The police will offer assistance upon request, though that area was virtually free of protesters by the end of the day on Wednesday.

Once the court bailiffs finish their task, the police are expected to move into the main camps on Harcourt Road in the Admiralty district, aiming to fully restore vehicle traffic between Connaught Road Central and Gloucester Road in the Wanchai district.

Lai Tung-kwok, Hong Kong's security chief, said the police "have made due preparations" and are "determined and competent" to restore traffic and public order. He said minimum force will be used against anyone resisting.

To avoid conflicts and injuries, he advised protesters to retreat and warned that the police will act resolutely against attempts to charge at officers or to reoccupy roads. Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam echoed the plea, especially for secondary school students.

Lam admonished leaders of the Hong Kong Federation of Students that, given the high risk of scuffles, it was "most undesirable" and "not advisable" to draw protesters back into the Admiralty site on Thursday for a proclaimed peaceful sit-in.

After Lam's news conference, opposition lawmakers explained the tactic. Similar to a July sit-in, protesters plan to sit quietly on the edge of the occupation area to let police officers carry them away passively, one by one.

"Knowing very well that there are some radical elements among the protesters, confrontation might be inevitable," Lam said.

The Tamar complex, including the central government's offices and the Legislative Council, or LegCo, will be closed as a precaution. LegCo President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing also made it clear that the police might be brought in to get rid of any defiant protesters seeking shelter there.

The police cleared blockades in Mong Kok district two weeks ago and said on Tuesday that they will only pick a date to tear down the protesters' remaining camp in the Causeway Bay district after the situation in Admiralty becomes clear.

The government plans to consult the public soon regarding details of the 2017 chief executive election. Lam promised to resume talks with students in the interim to find out what can be done within the constitutional framework to win their support for the proposal.

The active engagement of many young people in the protests, she said, also showed deep concerns over the wealth gap and housing. She said efforts are being made to deal with these prominent social issues and to ensure that the voice of young residents will be better heard.


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