Hong Kong protest: Thousands gather for fresh rally

Pro-democracy protesters gather at Admiralty district in Hong Kong - 10 October 2014
Crowds of demonstrators flocked back to the protest site in Admiralty district after talks were called off

Thousands of people have begun gathering in Hong Kong’s financial district after protest leaders called for a show of strength.

It comes after the territory’s deputy leader called off talks with student leaders scheduled for Friday.

Carrie Lam said the students’ refusal to end their protest had made “constructive dialogue” impossible.

The protesters, demanding full democratic elections in 2017, paralysed parts of Hong Kong in recent weeks.

Throughout the week only a few hundred protesters, mostly students, remained on the streets around the financial and government district of Admiralty and in Mong Kok north of the harbour.

But after the talks were cancelled, leaders of the student movement called on supporters to return to the streets.

“Come to occupy the road outside the public headquarters, come bring your tents to show our persistence on long term occupy action,” said Joshua Wong, the 17-year-old founder of the Scholarism movement.

Protester Harold Li said campaigners were not surprised talks had collapsed

Hong Kong Chief Secretary Carrie Lam said that the basis for constructive dialogue had been “undermined”

The BBC’s Juliana Liu in Hong Kong says the activists are hoping a new show of strength will be enough to sustain the movement.

By Friday evening thousands of people were flocking to the main protest site in the Admiralty area, she said.

Many were carrying tents and food supplies indicating they planned to remain for some time, Reuters reports.

“We are now planning on further action for escalating [the campaign] if the government keeps denying the meeting,” said Alex Chow, secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS).

Students check their laptops and smartphones during a rally of pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong - 10 October 2014
The student protesters remain resolute in their calls for the right to free and fair elections in Hong Kong
People are seen on an escalator as pro-democracy demonstrators gather for a rally in Hong Kong - 10 October 2014
The streets around the financial and government district of Admiralty have been a focus of the protests
Woman passes barricades in Admiralty, Hong Kong (10 Oct 2014)
The protests have caused major disruption but most people are able to get to work despite the shutdown

The protesters want to be able to directly elect Hong Kong’s leader, the chief executive, in the 2017 election.

China has said that, under Hong Kong law, voters will be able to vote freely but from a list approved by a nominating committee.

Ms Lam has accused the students of “undermining trust” in the proposed talks by repeatedly calling people out to protest.

“The dialogue cannot be deployed as an excuse to incite more people to join the protest,” she said. “The illegal occupation activists must stop.”

Democracy ‘a right’

In a separate development on Friday, Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou used his National Day speech to urge Beijing to move towards democracy, voicing support for Hong Kong’s protesters.

Mr Ma said that as China became more prosperous, its people would want more democracy and the rule of law.

“Such a desire has never been a monopoly of the West, but it is the right of all humankind,” he said.

Taiwan – which Beijing views as a breakaway province but which has been governed separately since 1949 – has been watching developments in Hong Kong closely.

Source: BBC News

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