Occupy Central begins ahead of plan

Occupy Central begins ahead of plan

Events at Tim Mei Avenue take a surprising turn as the escalating student strikes evolve into the early start of Occupy Central

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Co-founder Benny Tai Yiu-ting (middle) announces the official start of Occupy Central
Co-founder Benny Tai Yiu-ting (middle) announces the official start of Occupy Central

Benny Tai Yiu-ting announced at around 1:30am, Sunday that Occupy Central has officially begun at the Central Government Offices. They have two requests on political reform: for NPCSC to withdraw its reform plan, and for NPCSC and the Hong Kong government to restart political reform.

Tai had previously not been encouraging students to participate in Occupy Central. Now, he says the students are the ones encouraging others to take part. 

“Students have led Hong Kong to a new stage,” Tai said. "We have come so late, we should be ashamed of ourselves."

Currently, organisers still gathered at Tim Mei Avenue hope to withstand being removed from the space by police. But given the amount of people there still, Tai believes they will be able to hold their ground.

HKFS’ Eason Chung Yiu-wa said, “I don’t believe [Occupy Central] is too late. Today’s strike demonstrated the sprit of civil disobedience. If more citizens come out, I believe we can hold Tim Mei Avenue."

Andrea Tsui, 28, said she came to support the detained students, and that Occupy Central starting came as a surprise. Also, because she has to take care of her family, she's choosing not to participate, but will support those involved by bringing along resources and helping with the clean up.

Similarly, Leung Ching-in, 18, said Occupy Central starting early seemed sudden to her as well. She said the class boycotts, which kicked off this weekend's events, were originally a student initiative, while Occupy Central involves all sectors of the community. Therefore, the government's response may be more uncompromising. This has made her undecided on whether to join Occupy Central.

 

Tai said that he will give the government a reasonable amount of time to respond to their two requests. However, if they do not respond or meet their requests they will "take Occupy Central to another level.” 

The student strike continued into Sunday after protestors showed no signs of quitting, even after their letter of no objection to rally expired. Organisers said everyone detained earlier in the day had been released by the police, except Scholarism convenor Joshua Wong, and HKFS’s secretary general Alex Chow and vice secretary general Lester Shum. Organisers says they will not leave until all three students leaders are released by police.

Joshua was being held under three offences:  illegal assembly, disturbing social order and illegally entering government space.

According to Scholarism’s Tiffany Chin Sze-man, police conducted a two-hour search of Joshua's room with the Scholarism convenor and his mother present. The police left with Joshua's computer, two SD cards, one USB, and a hard drive. It was said he would not be able to get those items back for a year. 

The organisers said Chow and Shum were only held on charges of unlawful assembly. However, that their homes are going to be searched by police as well. 

On stage: (from left) Steve Lee Chun-kit, 23, Chan Wai-chi, 25 and October wan Ka-ki, 23

Earlier in the evening, three protestors who were detained at Wong Chuk Hang police school returned to the strike upon their release. They said they chose to stay inside Civic Square because they believe it belongs to citizens of Hong Kong. 

October Wan Ka-ki, 23, one of those detained, said some of the police were very rude to them during their detainment. 

Organisers told those who gathered in support of the students' strike that their rally would be illegal after midnight, as their Letter Of No Objection expired at 11:59pm on Saturday and the application for Sunday was denied. If they needed to leave, the organisers would understand. 

Students in London tied yellow ribbons to the gates outside of the Hong Kong Trade Office to support the strike in this city. There were also several demonstrations around the world today in support of the students' movement. 

A petition was started on the White House website asking the United States government to support democracy in Hong Kong, and to prevent another Tiananmen Massacre type incident. At time of publishing, the petition had over 25,000 signatures.

 

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