Hong Kong police remove barricades at protest sites

2014-10-13 07:26
Police officers cordon off a pro-democracy protest to allow traffic to flow on a main road in the Central district of Hong Kong. (Alex Ogle, AFP)

Police officers cordon off a pro-democracy protest to allow traffic to flow on a main road in the Central district of Hong Kong. (Alex Ogle, AFP)

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Hong Kong - Hundreds of Hong Kong police began removing some barricades from protest sites early on Monday, as pro-democracy demonstrations enter into their third week.

Police said they were removing barricades in the central business district and the dense residential area of Mong Kok in Kowloon in order to relieve traffic, but do not intend to "clear the scene".

Protesters who had slept on the streets ran to stand behind barricades, but did not try to physically interfere with police actions.

"They probably won't do anything more today, but false early morning alarms exhausted protesters. I'm worried there will be more of this throughout the week", a demonstrator told dpa.

Protesters reacted angrily on Sunday after city chief executive Leung Chun-ying said the Hong Kong demonstrations were "out of control" and likely to end soon.

"In fact, it is our government that is out of control, a government that fires tear gas at unarmed citizens and unilaterally terminated dialogue with the students", the three main activist groups said in a joint statement.

Leung told local television station TVB that the student-led protests had become a "mass movement".

The demonstrators are calling for open elections for the city's next chief executive in 2017, rejecting a ruling from Beijing that candidates must be approved by a government-backed election committee. They have also demanded Leung's resignation.

In the interview, Leung said the protesters had "zero chance" of getting China's ruling Communist Party to change its plans for the 2017 election.

Hong Kong police would continue efforts to persuade protesters to leave the streets but would avoid the use of force if possible, Leung said, insisting that he would not resign.

Radio station RTHK quoted student leader Lester Shum as saying an open letter to President Xi Jinping was intended to show that the protests were a "peaceful, democratic movement" rather than a revolutionary one.

The letter published Saturday calls for the building of a "democratic system that affirms equal rights," and for "Hong Kong problems be settled in Hong Kong".

Read more on:    hong kong  |  china

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