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Pro-democracy protesters from the banking and financial sector carry banners and placards during a demonstration ahead of the Occupy Central civil disobedience movement at Hong Kong’s Central district. Photo: Reuters
Pro-democracy protesters from the banking and financial sector carry banners and placards during a demonstration ahead of the Occupy Central civil disobedience movement at Hong Kong’s Central district. Photo: Reuters

Hong Kong occupy central says 10,000 people may join protest

Occupy Central this week invited people to join a 'democracy banquet' on the 1 October China National Day

Hong Kong: Organizers of Hong Kong’s Occupy Central with Love and Peace movement said they expect 10,000 people to join a rally in the business district to demand broader voting rights in the city.

Participants should bring enough food and water for two to three days for a sit-in protest that will last days, Chan Kin-man, a co-founder of the activist group, told reporters on Thursday, without giving a specific date for the event.

Occupy Central this week invited people to join a “democracy banquet" on the 1 October China National Day, signalling the start of a plan to paralyze Hong Kong’s business district to press for an open election in 2017. The Hong Kong police has yet to approve their applications to rally at the site on 1 October and 2 October, Chan said.

“Citizens should start preparing physically and psychologically now for civil disobedience," said Chan, an associate professor of sociology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “We insist on non-violent means. If we encounter the police and anti-Occupy Central people, we should not do anything that could hurt them physically, psychologically and financially."

The Hong Kong dollar weakened 0.02%, the most since 26 March, to HK$7.7538 a dollar, as of 6:18pm local time, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It touched 7.7540 earlier, the weakest since 3 June.

China last month said candidates for the leadership contest in the city must be vetted by a committee, angering activists who said the group is packed with business executives and lawmakers favouring Beijing.

Student blockade

Meanwhile, students plan to blockade roads tonight leading to the residence of Hong Kong’s top official, chief executive Leung Chun-ying, to demand a meeting, according to a Twitter posting from one of the organizers.

The student group behind tonight’s march hasn’t applied for a permit, the police said in a statement on Thursday.

“We respect the public’s freedom of expression, speech and assembly," the police department said in the statement. “Members of the public should comply with the laws of Hong Kong and maintain social order when expressing their views. Police appeal to the participants of the public event to act peacefully and rationally."

Thousands of Hong Kong university students boycotted classes this week to express dissatisfaction with China’s electoral reform proposals.

Public holidays

Occupy Central will issue a statement later specifying the exact date of their planned sit-in, Chan said at the briefing. 1 October and 2 October are public holidays, the first marking the start of the Communist Party’s Chinese rule in 1949.

The Hong Kong police will deploy 7,000 officers to manage the Occupy Central sit-in protest, Radio Television Hong Kong reported on Thursday, citing unidentified people.

The movement applied for police permits for rallies on Chater Road and Chater Garden for 1 October and 2 October, Apple Daily reported on Wednesday. Chater Garden and Chater Road are in the city’s business district, close to the Asian headquarters of HSBC Holdings Plc and the office of Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong’s richest man.

Occupation plans

Occupy Central will proceed even if the police rejects its permit applications, Chan said. The group has arranged for 30 doctors, 80 social workers and a group of lawyers to assist participants, he said.

In a Facebook posting, Occupy Central asked people who plan to join the meeting to bring food, drinks, spare batteries for phones, sleeping bags, and a change of clothes.

Lawmakers are expected to vote on the electoral reforms next year. Opposition to the proposal is fuelling the risk of China cancelling the popular election, the city’s top official, chief executive Leung Chun-ying, said on 14 September.

Benny Tai, a professor at The University of Hong Kong and co-founder of the Occupy Central movement, said in a Bloomberg interview on 2 September that the number of people joining the movement may not be as big as earlier expected after its strategy of a threatened protest failed to win concessions from China. He also said the movement will chose a date for the occupation that will minimize possible economic damage to the city. Bloomberg

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