Occupy Central organizers launched their long-anticipated civil disobedience campaign early Sunday, three days ahead of schedule, on the back of a widening student movement.
Co-founder Benny Tai said the group decided to begin their own sit-in protest in Central to build on the momentum of the student protest which entered a seventh day outside government headquarters, according to government broadcaster RTHK.
By Sunday morning, the student activists were pressing on with their protest for genuine democratic reform despite the arrest of their leaders.
The police had moved on the protesters Saturday, resulting in some violent clashes and several arrests, according to reports.
On Sunday, Occupy Central activists began to assemble in Tim Mei Avenue near the student protest venue.
Tai said their first action is to stop the police from clearing the site.
Alternate leaders have been appointed in case the group’s main organizers are arrested, Tai said.
Occupy Central had planned to launch the action on Oct. 1, China’s national day, but said it had yet to receive a police permit to use Chater Road, a key artery in the protest venue.
Organizers said they were told the venue had been booked for official activities.
Tai reiterated the group’s demand that China reconsider a proposed Hong Kong election framework it says smacks of fake democracy.
He said the Hong Kong government should start public consultation on a suitable alternative that reflects the wishes of Hong Kong people.
Meanwhile, Secretary for Development Paul Chan said Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying will meet the protesters only when the situation is calmer.
He warned the activists not to break the law and said their demand that China change its decision on the election framework for the 2017 chief executive election is unrealistc.
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