For the sake of safety, protesters should leave Occupy Central sites.
This is the appeal given in separate statements on Sunday by former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa and former chief justice Andrew Li, Ming Pao Daily News reported Monday.
Li said the students’ quest for democracy and their aspirations have been well understood and respected, but they should leave now and not put their lives in danger.
The protests have also upset social order, and students should learn to understand and respect the different needs of society. It is the right time to evacuate the protest sites, Li said.
Tung reminded students that there could be unforeseeable events at street protests and their education and future are at stake.
Several other prominent Hong Kong figures have also weighed in with calls for students to leave the streets.
Former chief justice Yang Ti-liang urged protesters to refrain from any aggressive action in order not to get hurt, adding that it will be far more effective using words than physical actions to convey their ideas.
Cardinal Joseph Zen called for evacuation despite seeing the taking over of Civic Square as a non-destructive move. Zen feared that with the intervention of triad forces, the police may not be in a position to ensure the safety of citizens. Students should conserve their power and not make unnecessary sacrifices, he said.
Former chief secretary Anson Chan said the civil disobedience campaign has reaped remarkable results, stirring global interest and prompting the government to sit down with the students. However, it is high time for students to leave unharmed, she said.
Political sources told Apple Daily that Tung did not criticize students and the overall tone of his statement was mild. This might be a reflection of the stance of Beijing authorities, suggesting any violent crackdown is not likely at this stage.
According to the sources, the several high-profile appeals for students to leave demonstration sites all stemmed from reliable intelligence that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was inclined to reclaim by force the government headquarters from the squatting protesters.
Leung was not in favor of a peaceful resolution and was prepared to gain the upper hand at all costs, the sources said.
The Hong Kong Federation of Students had agreed to resume negotiations with the government and not to block entrances of the government headquarters so civil servants can go to work on Monday.
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