Violent Hong Kong Protests On Lung Wo Road Prove The Fight For Democracy Is Far From Over
A recent flare-up in civil disobedience in Hong Kong revealed its fight for democracy is far from over. Hundreds of protesters charged Lung Wo Road in Hong Kong on Sunday night, protesting the Chinese government's refusal to allow the people of Hong Kong to choose candidates for the 2017 chief executive elections. As usual, the protesters were met with aggressive police action, and the clashes forced government offices to temporarily close on Monday morning. This latest surge in unrest is the most intense since the demonstrations started in late September, and it may respark the fight for universal suffrage after several setbacks in recent months.
Late on Sunday night, Occupy Central leaders rallied to converge outside the offices of CY Leung, the incumbent chief executive, on Lung Wo Road, just a short distance away from Connaught Road, the main site of the months-long demonstrations. As the student protesters descended on Lung Wo Road, police officers armed with pepper spray, batons, and riot gear ordered them to retreat and then physically pushed them back as they surrounded government headquarters in the Admiralty district. Officers arrested at least 40 protesters, many of which were wearing hard hats and carrying umbrellas, which have become the symbol of the Occupy Central movement.
The violent clashes between demonstrators and police forced the central government offices to temporarily shut down on Monday morning, when government employees were told to stay home for their own safety. By afternoon, they were allowed to return to work after police dismantled protest tents and cleared roads leading to their offices.
The Occupy Central movement has maintained its resolve after a disappointing few months. In late October, student leaders were able to hold talks with government officials to discuss the Hong Kong people's right to nominate candidates for chief executive, the city's top post, without interference from Beijing.
Though the talks were unprecedented, they ultimately amounted to no change in election reform. Around the same time, the High Court of Hong Kong began granting injunctions from taxi drivers and building owners to clear protest sites.
In November, bailiffs started assisting law enforcement in dismantling a major protest site in the Mong Kok district on court orders. On November 26, authorities were able to clear a large portion of the protest site and in the process arrested two student leaders, Joshua Wong and Lester Shum, along with more than 100 demonstrators.
The movement's diminishing presence on the streets is also reflective of dwindling public support. In a random survey conducted by the University of Hong Kong, 83 percent said that protesters should end their occupation of major roads in Hong Kong, presumably tired of the obstructions, while only 13 percent said that demonstrators should continue.
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