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Thursday, December 11, 2014, 17:03

Arrests made as main protest camp cleared

By & Agencies

Arrests made as main protest camp cleared 

Workers dismantle a barricade at a protest site near Central to enforce a court order on Dec 11, 2014. (Roy Liu / China Daily)

Arrests made as main protest camp cleared

Police moving into the Admiralty site without incident near the LegCo complex. (Photo / Kahon Chan )

HONG KONG - Hong Kong police started to remove protesters who refused to leave the "Occupy" protest area in the commercial district of Admiralty on Thursday afternoon.

A large crowd of protesters ignored the police appeal to withdraw from the protest site and sat on the ground shouting slogans. At around 16:30 pm, four police officers carried away the first protester and more were removed afterwards.

It took about an hour to take 30 sit-in protesters away from the assembly, which was encircled by dozens of cameras and journalists. Among them were former and current legislators, senior members of the Democratic Party, NextMedia owner Jimmy Lai, and the student leaders.

There were reportedly over a hundred of protesters taking part in the sit-in, as a deliberate tactic to procrastinate the clearance. Over a hundred of other participants and volunteers in the illegal protest walked away from the site after having their identities registered.

Local authorities on Thursday started clearing barriers at "Occupy" sites in Admiralty to free up main roads and streets that have been blocked by protesters for more than two months.

 Arrests made as main protest camp cleared
A "Occupy Central" demonstrator is taken away by a police officer from a protest site outside the Central Government Offices in Admiralty, Dec11, 2014. (Roy Liu / China Daily)

The clearance began in the morning at around 10:30 am, when workers dismantled the barricades set up by the protesters after bailiffs read out court's injunction orders to protesters.

The move was followed by a comprehensive clearing action taken by the police in the afternoon.

Police officers formed a cordon in the "Occupy" area and started off the clearing. They removed tents, canopies and other obstacles left behind by the protesters and used bolt cutters and electric saws to take down large barriers.

The bailiffs declared that they would remove barriers in Connaught Road Central, Harcourt Road, Tim Wa Avenue, Tim Mei Avenue and Gloucester Road, asking the protesters to leave the "Occupy" area peacefully and not to impede law enforcement.

Workers in safety vests and helmets slowly removed barriers heavily stranded by adhesive tapes and iron chains with the use of cutters and pinchers.

Obstacles including water-barriers, wooden boards, bamboo sticks and road cones were removed and put on trucks to carry away.

The police earlier called on protesters to leave and not to hamper the clearance process. Police Senior Superintendent Kwok Pak-chung said there were enough manpower to maintain order and they would not hesitate to intervene if the protesters exercise violence to interfere with the bailiffs' work.

There were protesters' chanting on the outskirts of the cordoned zone, such as on a footbridge connecting to the CITIC Tower, and at the bus terminus behind the Admiralty Centre after 5 pm. Police quickly brought the situation under control.

 Arrests made as main protest camp cleared
Lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-Yan is taken away by police officers in a protest site outside the Central Government Offices in Admiralty,Dec11, 2014. (Roy Liu / China Daily)

Carrie Lam, chief secretary for administration, assured earlier on the day that the police operations will be conducted in highest transparency to avoid misunderstandings and ungrounded allegations. "I think high transparency is key to this operation," said Lam.

The "Occupy" protest in Hong Kong started on Sept 28 and blockaded several main roads and streets in Kowloon and Hong Kong island, which has resulted in serious traffic disruption, less tourists, temporary closure of schools and banks and a slump in local stock market trading. There had also been a series of clashes broke out between protesters and police.

The chaotic scenes have raised worries and irritation among Hong Kong citizens.

A survey regarding the Hong Kong's economic outlook for 2015 reveals that 40 percent of the respondents were pessimistic about Hong Kong's future economy, while many said the "Occupy" protest stifles the economic growth of Hong Kong.

Simon Wong, president of the Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, told the media on Wednesday that more than HK$3 billion of business loss was recorded in major business centers of Admiralty, Mong Kok and Causeway Bay, the main occupy sites, since the launch of Occupy Central in September.

Hong Kong police assisted bailiffs in clearing the protest site in Mong Kok on Nov 25 and 26.

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