6 detained as Hong Kong protest sites start coming down

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Hong Kong, Dec 11: At least six pro-democracy protesters were arrested Thursday by Hong Kong police during the eviction of demonstration sites aimed at putting an end to the two months of peaceful occupation of the city's streets and upscale neighbourhoods.

6 detained as Hong Kong protest sites start coming down

The protesters were taken into custody for refusing to leave a busy street intersection after the police had cleared away the tents, barricades and improvised shelters erected by demonstrators in the downtown Admiralty district.

The individuals taken into custody did not resist arrest, said eyewitnesses. An unknown number of other protesters huddled on a small section of Harcourt Road said they, too, would refuse to disperse and likely would also face arrest.

So far, six arrests have been made, but there were still many people who have indicated they would refuse to leave, exposing themselves to arrest.

The police forced protesters to gather in a small section of Harcourt Road where hundreds of activists and several Hong Kong parliamentarians shouted slogans such as "We Are Not Afraid", "Civil Disobedience" and "Democracy Now".

Using loudspeakers, the officers repeatedly asked the protesters who have occupied the area for two months to maintain calm, otherwise force would be used against them and arrests made if necessary.

While maintenance personnel dismantled and removed barricades, police began to advance towards the main protest site from both sides of Harcourt Road, the street with the most number of tents put up by the protesters.

Hundreds of people, however, remained at the protest site despite the government's announced determination to clean up the Admiralty, Hong Kong's main financial and government office district, where the "Umbrella Revolution" first began in late September.

The policemen are executing a High Court order to clear the protest sites that have disrupted traffic ever since demonstrations broke out when the Beijing government refused to allow independent candidates on the ballot for local elections set for 2017.

Dozens of vehicles, some with water cannons, have been deployed by police while hundreds of officers have been equipped with riot-control gear and body armour.

Many protesters plan to remain at the site knowing they will be forcefully removed by the authorities as they complete the 75th day of their demands for more democratic freedom for Hong Kong.

Large banners and placards reading "We'll be back" and "It's just the beginning" welcomed police and bailiffs as they approached Admiralty.

Starting late Wednesday, hundreds of students spent several hours to remove their belongings from the occupied Admiralty district before the forced evacuation began.

IANS

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