Thu, Nov 20, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Hong Kong protesters try to break into legislature

AFP, HONG KONG

Masked pro-democracy protesters try to break a glass window of the Legislative Council with a fence in Hong Kong early yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

Hong Kong police clashed with pro-democracy demonstrators yesterday after a small group attempted to break into the territory’s legislature, as splits emerged within the movement ahead of the expected clearance of protest camps.

About 100 police used pepper spray and batons as they battled hundreds of protesters, some in helmets and waving umbrellas — a symbol of their movement — in a confrontation in the early hours. Officers made six arrests.

“Police strongly condemn such acts by the protesters, which disrupted public order,” the police force said in a statement.

The clashes were sparked when a group of about a dozen masked protesters smashed their way through a side entrance to the Legislative Council (LegCo) using metal barricades as battering rams.

At least one demonstrator made their way into the building, the Apple Daily newspaper reported.

A regular session of the chamber was canceled and visitor tours of the complex were suspended, the government said in a statement.

“Those who conducted the charge did not discuss the aims and strategy of their action with the occupiers on-site beforehand,” Occupy Central with Love and Peace, one of the protest groups, said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.

The group “strongly condemns the forceful charging action.”

The break-in was the clearest indication yet that a small faction of protesters want to ramp up rather than scale down action after the court-backed bailiffs’ action at Admiralty.

“I think we should all move to occupy inside government headquarters and LegCo,” a 23-year-old protester who gave his surname as Wong said in Mongkok. “In Taiwan, activists occupied the parliament on the first day. Now we have been sleeping out here for 50-odd days before we actually do it.”

“We don’t understand the point of the action,” Hong Kong Federation of Students chairman Alex Chow Yong Kang (周永康) told reporters yesterday, referring to the break-in.

Still, “the government in some way is pushing citizens into action as they have no options,” he said.

Hong Kong police are to help clear pro-democracy protest sites in the Mong Kok district as soon as preparations are complete.

The clearance may start as early as today, the South China Morning Post said yesterday.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg

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