6 Oct 2014

Protesters abandon sites in Hong Kong

9:03 am on 6 October 2014

Hong Kong pro-democracy demonstrators have partly abandoned two protest sites in the city's centre as a government-imposed deadline to clear the streets approaches.

Pro-democracy demonstrators stood divided on Sunday over whether to withdraw from protest sites across Hong Kong.

Pro-democracy demonstrators stood divided on Sunday over whether to withdraw from protest sites across Hong Kong. Photo: AFP

The government has given protesters until today to get off the streets so schools and businesses can resume as normal. If not, they have been threatened with unspecified consequences.

Students have said they will stop the blockade of the main government office block.

They also announced that their site in the Mongkok shopping area will be closed. However, some activists are refusing to give up the site.

Hong Kong's leader says public offices and schools will open on Monday.

The protesters are angry at China's plans to vet election candidates in 2017.

They are demanding that the central government in Beijing allow Hong Kong to hold fully free elections in the next vote for the territory's leader.

The number of protesters has dwindled, the BBC reports, and many do not relish a brave last stand in the face of an expected forceful eviction by police.

Hong Kong chief executive CY Leung had called on the protesters to end the demonstrations, warning that police had a responsibility to take all actions necessary to resume social order.

The Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) said it had always maintained access to the government headquarters, adding that there was no reason for employees not to return to work on Monday.

What began as a peaceful sit-in to demand democracy on 22 September escalated last Sunday when riot police used tear gas against unarmed students converging on the government headquarters.

The police response was widely condemned as an overreaction, prompting thousands of people to join the rallies and block key areas, including Hong Kong's financial district.

 Pro-democracy protestors cheer in an effort to calm a man shouting slogans at them in the Mong Kok district.

Pro-democracy protestors cheer in an effort to calm a man shouting slogans at them in the Mong Kok district. Photo: AFP

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs