At least 10,000 people gathered in the Admiralty protest site on Wednesday night, roaring “we will be back”, ahead of a scheduled police clearing Thursday morning.
By daylight, several thousand were still in the area, just hours after a court-ordered clearance, according to Apple Daily.
Alex Chow, secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS), said the pro-democracy protest movement will continue with a series of civil disobedience activities.
Meanwhile, Joshua Wong, founder and convenor of student activist group Scholarism, said the Hong Kong police will be held responsible for any injuries to protesters during the operation.
Chow said the protesters will stay put and face arrest to highlight the government’s continued refusal to hold talks on their demands for genuine democracy.
“The government is simply fooling itself, naively thinking that everything will be back to normal if vehicular access to Harcourt Road is restored,” Chow said.
Other key democracy figures will remain at the site and risk arrest, according to reports.
They include top that pan-democrats Emily Lau, Albert Ho, Sin Chung-kai, Audrey Eu, Claudia Mo, Alan Leong, Lee Cheuk-yan and Cyd Ho.
Eu said students are making greater sacrifices than she is, even though getting arrested and being charged could affect her career as a senior counsel.
“I’ve been practising for over three decades now. The students have a bright future. My sacrifices are not as significant compared to theirs,” she said.
Lee urged protesters to exercise restraint and not give the police any excuse to use force.
Albert Ho said he is willing to be arrested but the clearing operation will not clear the anger and frustration in his heart.
Police said they will start dismantling barriers in the protest area at 9 a.m. and begin full-scale demolition two hours later.
Protesters who refuse to leave will be be forcibly removed and arrested, officials said.
They said no tear gas or pepper spray will be used, unless protesters charge police lines or scuffles erupt.
More than 7,000 officers will be sent to carry out the operation.
Clearing of the Causeway Bay protest site could be delayed to Friday, depending on the progress of the Admiralty operation, reports said.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor director Law Yuk-kai said the United Nations is collecting information about police action during the protests, including their treatment of reporters, protesters and human rights observers.
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