Three Hong Kong protest leaders surrender, call for 'next stage'

03 December 2014

Three founders of Hong Kong's pro-democracy protest movement announced on Tuesday that they would surrender to police today to prevent an escalation of clashes with the authorities. They called for an end to street demonstrations and taking the campaign to a new stage, but it wasn't clear whether student protesters, who make up the bulk of the activists, would heed the call.

Professors Benny Tai Yiu-ting and Chan Kin-man and Pastor Chu Yiu-ming said they planned to surrender to police to take responsibility for protests that have shut down parts of the Asian financial hub for more than two months.

Instead of street protests, the three said they hope to continue the campaign through networking among civic groups, community organising and education in democracy and human rights.

The three are founders of the Occupy Central movement, which is trying to force China's government to scrap its requirement that candidates in inaugural 2017 elections for Hong Kong's leader be approved by a panel chosen by Beijing. However, the three represent only one faction of demonstrators.

Hundreds of demonstrators remain entrenched in the main downtown protest site, building tents, work tables and other infrastructure, even as energy has diminished on the streets since the first surge of demonstrations in late September.

Joshua Wong, a prominent student leader, said Monday that he and two other members of his group would go on an indefinite hunger strike to press their demands.

''We admit that it's difficult in the future to have an escalated action, so besides suffering from batons and tear gas, we would like to use our bodies to direct public attention to the issue,'' Wong said on Tuesday.

''We are not sure if the hunger strike can put pressure on the government, but we hope that when the public realizes the student hunger strike, they will ask themselves what they can do next,'' he added.

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