Date
19 August 2017
Police ring protesters in Civic Square. A student group says it will talk to other protesters to scale back their action if the government reopens the square. Photo: Internet
Police ring protesters in Civic Square. A student group says it will talk to other protesters to scale back their action if the government reopens the square. Photo: Internet

Students will swap street occupation for Civic Square reopening

A group of student activists said they will talk to fellow protesters about scaling back their occupation of Hong Kong roads if the government agrees to reopen Civic Square in Tamar Park, ground zero of the pro-democracy demonstrations, RTHK reported Friday.

Lester Shum, deputy secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS), said discussion with other groups is “possible” only if the government reopens the square to show its sincerity.

Earlier, the government said it will block access to Civic Square outside government headquarters for security reasons.

If the government agrees to reopen Civic Square, HKFS will discuss with other protesters about confining their demonstrations to that area, secretary general Alex Chow was quoted as saying.

They will work for the return of Harcourt Road and Connaught Road, two main arteries of the protest sites, to normal traffic.

Some protesters criticized the decision to close Civic Square last summer, saying it is a public area which should be open to all.

Meanwhile, lawmaker Regina Ip accused the protesters of theft and vandalism, citing photos of the protesters which she said showed the movement is illegal and should be investigated.

Pan-democrat legislators, led by Wong Yuk-man, defended the movement as “spontaneous” and warned any investigation will smack of “white terror”. 

Firemen have joined the police in ripping the protesters’ plans to expand the occupied areas, calling them “extremely irresponsible”, police spokesman Kong Man-keung said.

He said some protesters have turned the occupied streets in Mong Kok into living space and playground, blocking traffic and upsetting residents.

“That has triggered mounting complaints from local residents which could lead to more clashes,” Kong said.

“Mong Kok has turned into a high-risk area.”

He dismissed reports that frontline officers are unhappy with the handling of last week’s dispersal operation.

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JZ/JP/RA

Freelance journalist

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