26 November 2014
Last updated at 06:49
Scores of people have been arrested in Hong Kong during scuffles sparked by operations to dismantle pro-democracy protest activist camps.
Those arrested included leading student activists Joshua Wong and Lester Shum.
The authorities, acting on court orders, are clearing part of the Mong Kok commercial district in Kowloon.
Overnight on Tuesday, protesters fought running battles on the streets around Nathan Road, with police using batons and pepper spray.
The Hong Kong Federation of Students said its leading activist Lester Shum was detained, along with Joshua Wong of the Scholarism movement and a number of other key protest figures.
It is Mr Wong’s second arrest in recent months, after he was detained in September at the start of the protests.
Other arrests were for offences including assaulting police, possessing offensive weapons and obstructing officers.
Tents torn down
The authorities have moved in on Mong Kok after a court gave permission for the Argyle and Dundas Street areas to be cleared. A taxi company won an injunction after arguing that its business was being disrupted.
Tuesday’s clearance in another area of Mong Kok was the result of an injunction by a bus company.
The clearance operation continued early on Wednesday as bailiffs, backed by police, began removing barricades.
Bailiffs and workers in red baseball caps and T-shirts that read “I love HK” dismantled wooden pallets and other materials after a warning was read out.
Police officers wearing helmets are on the streets as well, tearing down tents and canopies. Other officers are standing by with backpack pepper sprayers, local media reported.
Anyone seen to be obstructing the process can be arrested for contempt of court, according to the injunction Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post.
The BBC’s Martin Yip in Hong Kong says police action to clear the site on Tuesday appears to have encouraged many more protest supporters to come on to the streets.
The main protest site, in the financial district across the harbour, remains largely intact, with a normally busy eight lane highway blocked by hundreds of tents.
The activists have been on the streets since early October, demanding a free choice of leader in the 2017 election.
China, however, says the pool of candidates that people in Hong Kong will vote on will be selected by a Beijing-backed committee.
Protesters originally numbered in the tens of thousands when the Hong Kong unrest first began in October, but have since dwindled to a few hundred, while attempts by both sides to reach a compromise have made little progress.
Mr Wong, from the Scholarism group, had earlier said the court orders were being used as an excuse to remove activists, according to the Post.
Protesters complained that the bailiffs have not explained properly what the court order includes and what would qualify as “obstructing” their work.
Hong Kong democracy timeline
- 1984: Britain and China sign an agreement where Hong Kong is guaranteed “a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs” for 50 years following the handover in 1997.
- June-July 2014: Pro-democracy activists hold an unofficial referendum on political reform and a large rally. This is followed by protests by pro-Beijing activists.
- 31 August 2014: China says it will allow direct elections in 2017, but voters will only be able to choose from a list of pre-approved candidates. Activists stage protests.
- 22 September 2014: Student groups launch a week-long boycott of classes in protest.
- 28 September 2014: Occupy Central and student protests join forces and take over central Hong Kong.
- October 2014: Chief Executive CY Leung refuses demands for his resignation. Discussions between government and student leaders go nowhere. High court begins granting injunctions to clear protest sites.
- 15 November 2014: Student leaders’ attempt to travel to Beijing fails.
- 18 November 2014: Bailiffs move in to clear a portion of the Admiralty protest site.
- 2017: Direct elections for chief executive due to take place
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