Tyrone Siu / Reuters

Hong Kong protest barriers are coming down

Bailiffs enforced an injunction in Admiralty against barricades; unclear when similar Mong Kok order will be enforced

Workers in Hong Kong on Tuesday started clearing away barricades at a camp in the heart of the city that has been occupied by pro-democracy demonstrators for nearly two months, leaving most of the main protest site intact.

About 30 court bailiffs arrived at the Citic Tower in Admiralty, next to government buildings, to enforce an injunction against street barricades after a request from the building's owners, witnesses said.

The workers could be seen cutting plastic ties holding the barricades together. Students, who have been protesting for greater democracy in the former British colony, did not resist. Some protesters had already moved their tents to other parts of the protest zone ahead of the clearance operation.

Authorities stood by as workers used cutters to remove barricades. Police and said the building's owners had hired workers to carry out the clearance.

"We will proceed on the principle of peace and non-violence," said Joshua Wong, head of Scholarism, one of two student groups leading the protests.

"We are not looking for an argument with the police. If they clear the road outside the car park we will accept that. If they clear other areas it will be very disappointing."

Some protesters packed up pillows, blankets and other belongings from inside their tents and moved to another part of the demonstration zone.

"Our plan is to do nothing and just observe," said protester Gary Yeung, 25. "The pre-agreed area is fine. Anything beyond that is not. It's a peaceful protest so we won't fight back."

The demonstrations centered around the nomination of candidates for Hong Kong’s first elections to select a chief executive. Earlier this year, China endorsed the 2017 vote, but rejected calls to allow citizens the ability to directly nominate the candidates. China, instead, said that candidates would be picked by a pro-Beijing committee made up of 1,200 members — a decision some pro-democracy commentators said would render the vote “meaningless.” The decision is something protesters view as a violation of the city’s constitution, or “Basic Law,” which says Hong Kong would ultimately get “universal suffrage.”

The removal comes after a Hong Kong court granted a restraining order against the protesters last week requiring them to clear the area in front of a tower in the central part of Hong Kong as well a separate order against a second protest site Mong Kok that has seen some of the most violent clashes over the past seven weeks. It was not clear when authorities would enforce that order.

Al Jazeera and wire services


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