Bobby Yip / Reuters

HK clears last pro-democracy protest camp

Two protesters taken away by Hong Kong police during the clearing of last pro-democracy encampments

Hong Kong authorities began clearing away the last pro-democracy encampments settled by protesters near government headquarters on Wednesday, watched by a handful of demonstrators.

The protests failed to persuade China to allow a fully democratic vote for the city's next leader in 2017, instead of a list of pre-screened, pro-Beijing candidates.

The clearance came six days after Hong Kong's legislature vetoed a Beijing-backed electoral reform package that was criticized by pro-democracy lawmakers and activists as undemocratic.

The so-called Occupy Central movement began last year on Sept. 28, when tens of thousands of protesters called for full democracy in demonstrations that became the biggest political challenge to Beijing's Communist Party leaders for decades.

The protesters dug in over the ensuing weeks and police cleared away most of the sites in mid-December but a small cluster of tents and hardcore protesters were allowed to remain until Wednesday, making it 270 straight days of demonstrations at the same site.

Officials from the Lands Department, dressed in hard hats and green vests, read out a notice calling for a final clearance of the remaining site on a rainy morning.

Two protesters were taken away by police. One who was identified by demonstrators as Wang Dengyao, a Chinese activist who survived the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing.

There was little resistance from around 20 others who watched quietly as their sodden tents and possessions were thrown into dump trucks.

“We didn't succeed, but we also didn't fail,” said 71-year-old Simon Wong, whose black T-shirt bore the slogan: “I want real universal suffrage.”



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