Date
20 September 2017
Protesters are debating how and when to end the street occupation. Meanwhile, the government is content simply watching them tire out. Photo: EJ Insight
Protesters are debating how and when to end the street occupation. Meanwhile, the government is content simply watching them tire out. Photo: EJ Insight

Why staying put is protesters’ best option

After 60 days of street occupation, Hong Kong democracy protesters are ready to call it a day and everything is down to the method and timing.

Some protesters have different views on the matter but they seem to agree that the best time to wrap it up is before the police move in.

Meanwhile, the pro-Beijing camp and its supporters are pressing on with a public relations campaign to force the government to clear the protest sites in Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok.

Until now, the government has largely stayed on the sidelines, allowing bailiffs to enforce a court injunction against the protesters which has led to some protest areas being vacated.

From a legal perspective, all people should leave areas covered by the court order. That means the street occupation should end immediately.

But the fact is that people are still occupying these areas in defiance of the injunction and the government is not doing anything to force compliance.  

It could be quite strange for the co-founders of Occupy Central, the civil disobedience movement that helped inspire the student protests, to surrender to the police when the government is not even doing its part to enforce the law.

It’s possible that the police are merely biding their time before making arrests and laying charges but even this scenario looks remote.

But the government can see that the protesters are tired, their parents worried and the public increasingly turning the tide in its favor.

From the student leaders’ perspective, they have nothing more to gain from a prolonged campaign after their demands for true democracy have been roundly rejected by Beijing and Hong Kong.

On the other hand, retreating now would be a loss of momentum, so they could be thinking of a way to take the fight to the next level instead.

Some of their supporters want them to leave now and not risk aggravating ordinary citizens any further, but the student leaders say the decision is not up to them — it’s a matter for all protesters.

There’s really no one voice calling the shots. The protesters are individually self-motivated, without the benefit of party organization

The Hong Kong Federation of Students and student activist group Scholarism have emerged as proxies for the protesters by virtue of the fact that the campaign began as a class boycott.

At this time, the protesters’ best option is to stay put.

-– Contact us at [email protected]

JH/JP/RA

EJ Insight writer

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