Hong Kong police swooped in on sleeping pro-democracy protesters from the Occupy Central movement early on Friday to remove barricades from a key intersection in the city, further signalling that the government doesn’t want the agitation to carry on any more.
The action — which saw the deployment of hundreds of police personnel — was ordered within hours of the city government saying that it was willing to talk to student protesters next week to attempt a resolution of the three-week long protest.
The police action at around 5 in the morning was carried out at the congested Mong Kok locality — an area across the harbor from one of the key targets of the protesters, the government headquarters — where protesting students had earlier clashed with police personnel.
But according to state media reports, this morning’s action was carried out peacefully; most of the protesters were sleeping when a large number of policemen descended on the locality.
“The police started the operation at around 5:00 am local time, catching the protesters by surprise who were still sleeping. The officers removed tents, bamboo and other makeshift barricades before protesters could make any resistance,” state-run Xinhua news agency said in a report Friday. Friday’s police action is likely to come under criticism.
“The Hong Kong government’s despicable clearance here will cause another wave of citizen protests,” radio talk show host and activist Wong Yeung-tat was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency from Hong Kong.
The official line on police action has been that barricades are being removed to ensure that normal traffic resumes on the streets of Hong Kong. Protesters will not be removed, officials have said, adding they will be allowed to be in pockets to carry out the agitation.