Hong Kong is facing its biggest political unrest in decades as tens of thousands of protesters defy a police crackdown to demand greater freedom from China. The new round of protests began last week when thousands of college students launched a boycott to oppose China’s rejection of free elections in 2017. The protesters want an open vote, but China’s plan would only allow candidates approved by Beijing. After a three-day sit-in, police used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the crowds. But that only fueled a public outcry which brought even more into the streets, with estimates reaching up to 200,000 people. Protest leaders have vowed to remain until the resignation of Hong Kong city leader, Leung Chun-ying, and a free vote for his successor. Originally organized by the group “Occupy Central,” the protests have been dubbed Umbrella Revolution, for the umbrellas protesters have used to hide from the tear gas. The police crackdown is the harshest since China retook control of Hong Kong in 1997 after 150 years of British rule. The crackdown is being felt in mainland China, where the government has blocked the mobile photo-sharing app Instagram and heavily censored references to Hong Kong on social media. We are joined from Hong Kong by journalist Tom Gundy, who has been covering the protests.
Pro-Democracy Demonstrators Dig Deep, Hold Ground in Hong Kong
by Jon Queally, Common Dreams
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
The pro-democracy crowds in central Hong Kong are growing, not shrinking, after more than three days of sustained protest.
Despite a call earlier on Tuesday by Leung Chun-ying, the chief executive of Hong Kong, that demonstrators should end their barricaded sit-in in the city’s center, those rallying under the name ‘Occupy Central with Peace and Love’ appear to be digging in, not giving up.
Leung gave a brief public speech in which he said he would not resign, as protesters have demanded, but said that the protests are proving disruptive to their fellow citizens and should end. Backed by leaders in Beijing, Leung acknowledged that the protesters appeared to have staying-power, but said demands for more control over the elected leadership and governance of Hong Kong will not be entertained by leaders in China.
The protesters meanwhile, who are sparking solidarity protests worldwide for their courageous stand against Chinese one-party rule, say they are now organizing for the long haul and planning wider actions.
Hong Kong pro-democracy activists threaten to step up protests
Tania Branigan, The Guardian
Tuesday 30 September 2014 11.49 EDT
Pro-democracy protest leaders in Hong Kong have threatened to step up their campaign if the region’s chief executive does not meet them by midnight on Tuesday, after he insisted that Beijing would not retreat on limits to voting reforms.
Leung Chun-ying had urged demonstrators to withdraw immediately from an occupation that has brought roads in the city centre to a standstill for the third night running. Tens of thousands of protesters withstood a rainstorm to make their voices heard.
“If Leung Chun-ying doesn’t come out to Civic Square before midnight … then I believe inevitably more people will come out on to the streets,” said Alex Chow, secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, which organised class boycotts that sparked the mass protests.
Lester Shum, another student leader, told the growing crowd at Admiralty, around government complexes: “We are not afraid of riot police, we are not afraid of teargas, we are not afraid of pepper spray. We will not leave until Leung Chun-ying resigns. We will not give up, we will persevere until the end.”
Leung said: “Occupy Central founders had said repeatedly that if the movement is getting out of control, they would call for it to stop. I’m now asking them to fulfil the promise they made to society, and stop this campaign immediately.”