Date
17 December 2017
Benny Tai (Center) stands alongside the other co-founders of the Occupy Central movement, Chan Kin-man (L) and Chu Yiu-ming (R), at a news conference in Hong Kong Tuesday. Photo: Reuters
Benny Tai (Center) stands alongside the other co-founders of the Occupy Central movement, Chan Kin-man (L) and Chu Yiu-ming (R), at a news conference in Hong Kong Tuesday. Photo: Reuters

Occupy Central leaders urge students to retreat

Three key figures in Hong Kong’s democracy campaign want student protesters to retreat and “put down deep roots in the community” following more than two months of street occupation.

Benny Tai, Chan Kin-man and Chu Yiu-ming, co-founders of Occupy Central, the civil disobedience group that helped inspire the student-driven democracy protests, said it’s time to transform the movement.

“The fight for democracy is a long-term struggle,” they said in an open letter to Hongkongers Tuesday.

“Now is the time to transform the people’s strength into a sustainable civil society movement to sow the spirit of democracy deep into the community.”

The trio said they will surrender to the police on Wednesday and “bear the legal consequences” of their actions and hope the students will “retreat to advance”.

Civil disobedience is about breaking the law in a limited way through peaceful, non-violent means to fight for justice, they said.

“It is not the goal of civil disobedience to damage the rule of law… those engaging in it must have the courage to bear the legal consequences.”

Occupy Central will shift its strategy from civil disobedience to social engagement to foster debates in the courts and professional organizations, work more closely with the community and help spread democratic education, they said.

Also, Tai and Chan will draft a social charter “to protect our core values” and come up with action plans to “create a space that belongs to the people through the strength of civil society”.

“In the past two months, the students from the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholarism have worked tirelessly around the clock for the movement,” the Occupy co-founders said.

“We hope they can recuperate and build up strength in order to continue on the long road to democracy.”

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