HK protesters mull their next moves

08-Dec-2014 Intellasia | Aljazeera | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters on Friday weighed their options of whether to call off more than two months of street protests or change tactics, as one leader suggested a campaign of withholding tax to “block government.”

The Hong Kong Federation of Students will decide in the next week whether to call on protesters to pull up stakes from camps that straddle some of the Chinese-controlled city’s main thoroughfares.

The protesters have few options left after rallying supporters in a failed bid earlier this week to surround government headquarters that resulted in a night of violent clashes with police armed with batons and pepper spray. Public support for the protesters has fallen as the government has stuck to its apparent strategy of waiting them out.

Prominent student leader Joshua Wong said on his social media accounts that his group will discuss and coordinate with the federation on the decision. Wong, 18, and four other members of his Scholarism group started a hunger strike this week to try to force the government to resume talks over the students’ demands, which include dropping Beijing’s requirement to screen candidates for Hong Kong’s inaugural 2017 elections.

Pro-democracy student leader Joshua Wong during a press conference at an Occupy Hong Kong tent on the fifth day of his hunger strike, Dec. 5, 2014. The strike, undertaken by Wong and two other members of his Scholarism group, are aimed at forcing talks with political leaders about the electoral future of Hong Kong. How Hwee Young / EPA

The two groups have played key roles in organising the protests.

On “withdrawing or not withdrawing, any tactics, any methods will be considered,” Tommy Cheung, another federation member, told reporters. “The federation will discuss the next step in our plan… At the moment there’s no clear-cut decision.”

The talk of retreat comes after the founders of Occupy Central, which also played a role in the protests, called this week for the students to end the protests to avoid further violence. The three founders of that group and about 60 supporters turned themselves over to police on Wednesday, but police let them go.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to Chinese Communist Party rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula that gives it some autonomy from the mainland and a promise of eventual universal suffrage.

While Beijing has allowed for a free vote in 2017, it insists on pre-screening candidates.

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/12/5/hong-kong-protests.html

 


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