• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 10:50pm
Occupy Central
NewsHong Kong

Occupy Central's Benny Tai declares 'era of civil disobedience' for Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 31 August, 2014, 7:20pm
UPDATED : Monday, 01 September, 2014, 6:27am

After China's National People's Congress standing committee slapped tight restrictions on Hong Kong's 2017 chief executive election procedures in an official decision on Sunday, pro-democracy forces in the city have vowed to embark on long-term fight against Beijing's decision. 

Organisers of Occupy Central, a civil disobedience movement calling for democratic elections by "international standards", gathered several thousand supporters outside the Hong Kong government headquarters in Tamar between 7pm and 9pm on Sunday. They declared Occupy Central would soon enter it next stage, calling for thousands of protesters to stage sit-ins on main roads and "wave after wave" of protests and paralyse Hong Kong's financial centre. 

Watch: Scholarism protest against NPC decision outside of Beijing official Li Fei's hotel

10.45pm About a hundred protesters led by student activist group Scholarism remain camped opposite the Grand Hyatt Hotel awaiting Li Fei's expected arrival at around 2am.

Lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung and Scholarism convenor Joshua Wong Chi-fung give speeches to rally protesters, who are asked to rest and drink water during this period.

10.38pm At least 10 police vehicles are parked at a row of bus stops on Gloucester Road. Some people shouted angrily at the police for causing inconveniences to the public and parking with their engines on.

10.12pm After the chaotic scene, Scholarism announced that the police had agreed to expand the barricaded protesting zone.

9.55pm Chaos broke out briefly at Grand Hyatt Hotel in Wan Chai, where Li Fei would be staying Sunday night, as some protesters breached metal barricades because the arranged protesting zone was not large enough to fit the group of protesters who had marched to the hotel to wait for Li.

One of the organisers shouted repeatedly via a loudspeaker, asking protesters not to engage in physical clashes with the police. The chaos lasted about 2 minutes.

9.15pm Speaking after the event, Benny Tai Yiu-ting said Sunday night's turnout of a few thousand exceeded his expectations.

"In such a short time, thousands showed up to express their disappointment at the NPC's decision," he said. Event organisers at 8pm estimated the turnout at 5,000. After the rally, police estimated that 2,640 people had joined at its peak time.

"Even though the decision is unjust and undemocratic, many people are willing to fight for democracy and for the ability to decide their own fate."

Tai said he could not provide further details about when exactly the movement would commence but "citizens would know when the time comes".

He said student boycotts would begin first, followed by a number of regular lawful protests. A yellow ribbon campaign would hopefully raise public awareness about the injustice of the NPC decision, he said.

Watch: Occupy Central leaders promise civil disobedience campaign in Hong Kong

9.10pm Demonstration comes to an end.

"We will meet again very soon in Central," says Benny Tai Yiu-ting.

Occupy organisers urge participants to leave in orderly and peaceful manner and not to engage with counter-protesters who could try to provoke them.

9.06pm Ng Yut-ming, 50, attended the rally with his wife and daughter. He said he was disappointed over the Standing Committee's decision.

"I want to tell Beijing that Hong Kong people do not agree with their decision and will not accept this," said Ng.

He said he would participate in Occupy Central and was ready to accept potential legal consequences.

Ng's daughter Long-hei, 21, said she had not decided if she would take part in the boycott of classes or Occupy Central, depending on if these activities would change Beijing's mind.

8.55pm Occupy organisers ask participants to take out their mobile phones and to switch on the flashlight function. The lights represent the "conscience of Hong Kong citizens", said Occupy co-organiser Chan Kin-man. A popular song played at social movements by rock band Beyond plays in the background.

8.50pm Martin Lee Chu-ming, founding chairman of Hong Kong's Democratic Party, also takes to the stage to call out the central government for "cheating" Hongkongers of true democracy.

"They are moving the goal posts again," said Lee. "Beijing can now select the candidates, puppets of course ... two to three, they say.

"But what's the difference between a rotten orange, rotten apple and a rotten banana?

"We want genuine universal suffrage not democracy with Chinese characteristics."

8.33pm University student Elef Wong, 21, said he would also participate in student boycotts.

"It will affect my education but I think it is necessary for me to participate because we are talking about the future of Hong Kong," said Wong.

"I was very disappointed in [the NPC decision] today. They have rejected everything we have been fighting for for so long...this is not improvement, this is a step backward."

8.32pm Cheung Siu-yan, in her 50s, took her seven-year-old granddaughter to the rally. She said she would not join Occupy Central because she was the only caretaker of her granddaughter, but said she really wanted to.

"Today is a really sad day," said Cheung. "I'm no longer young. Hong Kong has been pursuing for universal suffrage for 30 years. How many 30 years there are in a person's life? Does my granddaughter have to wait for another 30 years? Don't kid with me."

8.20pm Ho Yim-hung, 80, said Beijing had betrayed Hong Kong in denying it an open election and asserting total control over the city through the white paper.

"The central government is a liar," she said emotionally. "It says people who join Occupy Central are violent, but in fact it is violent itself." Ho said she would join Occupy Central, even if at the risk of being arrested.

8.10pm Scholarism convenor Joshua Wong Chi-fung announces that preparations for secondary school student strikes would officially be underway.

"In addition to our academic responsibility, we also have our social responsibility," he said. 

7.56pm Rain became heavier with rumbling thunder. Many in the rally have opened umbrellas and stayed in the venue, as speakers on the stage vowed "wave after wave of fight" for real democracy.

"Hope starts with people," one speaker shouts, with many in the audience echoing him.

Later, Scholarism spokeswoman Agnes Chow Ting announced the group's plan to "ambush" Li Fei, chairman of the Basic Law Committee, at his hotel in Wan Chai after the rally.

7.35pm Amid a slight drizzle, Civil Human Rights Front convenor Johnson Yeung Ching-yin takes to the stage.

Yeung says the central government had made two mistakes. The first was to lie to Hong Kong for 30 years, the second was to attempt "to kill Hong Kong's democracy".

He urges protesters to each look for a friend or companion to join them in the Occupy Central movement.

Federation of Students secretary-general Alex Chow Yong-kang breaks into tears as he speaks.

"Hong Kong is the home court of Hongkongers!" he shouts.

7.35pm Seven police vehicles are parked in front of the City Hall, all with engine running.

7.25pm Groups of police officers are scattered along roads between Admiralty and Central. In the pictures, officers getting ready near City Hall.

7.20pm Occupy leader Benny Tai Yiu-ting said the city would now officially enter an "era of civil disobedience".

"I know many people are here our of frustration. But we should not. Why? It's because we see hope," said Tai.

"Look at the person sitting next to you. That person will be occupying Central with you!

"We see injustice in society ... And we must voice out this unjust!

He did not give an exact date on when the actual date would take place due to legal concerns but urged participants to pay attention in the next week or two.

He said the movement would dovetail with the student boycotts and come in "wave after wave" of protest.

7.10pm Metal barricades are seen tied to roadside fences in several different places in Admiralty and Central. Police have previously said they would install at least 3,000 metal barricades along Chater Road, Queen's Road Central and Des Voeux Road Central. More police vans are seen parked on small streets such as Club Street, where another six police vehicles are seen.

7.10pm Throngs of people begin flowing into Tamar Park from Admiralty Centre.

Occupy Central organisers kick off the evening's events on stage.

Occupy co-organiser said the NPC's decision for electing the chief executive in 2017 did not meet international standards.

Twenty-five pan-democratic lawmakers took to the stage saying they would veto the plan in council and called for unity. They said the central government had deprived the Hong Kong public's right to choose by not including civic nomination.

6.55pm Small splinter protest groups rally outside the Chief Executive's Office. About 30 to 40 protesters waving national and Hong Kong flags chanted their support for the NPC'a decision and opposition the Occupy Central.

Another group waving colonial-era flags protested across the street. No clashes were seen. A large presence of police kept the two side apart.

6.45pm Chater Road and Chater garden are relatively unguarded, occupied mostly by foreign domestic helpers.

The centre of the open area under the HSBC headquarters has been barricaded, with some construction work apparently going on. The area has been a popular gathering place among domestic helpers and protesters in the last few years.

Six police vans are parked on both sides of the small Bank Street between the HSBC headquarters and the Bank of China building, likely waiting to be dispatched.

6.15pm Police presence near government headquarters in Tamar becomes more palpable, with about 30 uniformed officers seen on one of the footbridges leading to the government buildings. 


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This article is now closed to comments

To those who have commented below, instead of attacking people's characters, please explain why Hong Kongers should accept anything less than real democracy. It's very simple: Beijing and HK governments should trust their own people by granting them their civil and legal rights to stand and vote in HK elections. The Communist Party should itself stand in those elections to give the Silent Majority the chance to show its support. Simple. Why are you afraid of letting the people choose their own leaders?
Benny Tai and his so-called pro-democracy allies are cowards, provoking innocent and ignorant HK students to protest for his own selfish cause, inviting western nations such as US and UK to invade into China's sovereignty. While Jimmy Lai works alongside with his ex-US navy intelligence officer, Mark Simon, to create havoc in HK. Traitors!
I wonder how many of those demonstrators are holding British passport.
Hong Kongers must respect Hong Kong’s basis laws signed by Britain and China. If Great Britain had had the option of ruling Hong Kong as long as it pleased, would Hong Kong today be a full democracy? Maybe not. Probably not. Why Hong Kongers had never asked for their basis of human rights and democracy under British rule. Like a silence of lamb, it is like British’s fiefdom ground or playground. I wonder if those few Hong Kongers holding British passports or foreigners try to create chaotic Hong Kong under the name of democracy.
People in Hong Kong vote in free and fair elections, they can protest and assembly. Yet, ironically, Hong Kong today is more democratic than it was during the vast majority (perhaps the totality) of its time under British rule.
Why did Great Britain never make Hong Kong a democracy? Why didn’t it do this in the 1960s or 1970s or even 1980s? Why did it continue appointing bland British bureaucrats, who had never lived there and knew nothing about the place, to run Hong Kong? It seems that this failure has something to with the continuing British nostalgia of empire.
Jennie PC Chiang/江佩珍 09/01/14 美國
Very annoying all these fake messages, please get a real job instead of working for the Chinese government......
I don't like the Pan-demos, they always say they represent HKers. Do they? I advise them to go back to their constituents and ask them for their support of blocking the pass of election bill in the legislature. It is the Pan-demos, their anti China actions and speeches make Chinese government so tough on the election rules.
Pretty simple. If you don't like it. Please get out. If not, hell, lets ship you out. Worse thing is for some vermin who want to stay think the world revolves around them. If you don't have a passport, take a boat and go to Australia or somewhere else, I'm sure they'll welcome you.
HongKong is now being manipulated by a bunch of kids and those so called democrats who do not have a clue why HongKong is named a special administrative region. It's just a region within China, in terms of people, culture, military and economics. Be realistic, HongKong is nothing different from any Chinese city. With the rapid growth of China's global influence, you should be proud of being Chinese; and accept whatever China offers in terms of governance.
If you want to convince the Chinese government why HongKong should adopt other than basic law standard to elect her Chief Executive, why do we occupy Central? Beijing will not have a chance hearing what you want to say. Beijing is the one making the final call. Why don't you go to occupy Tiananmen Square so that the Chinese top executives have a chance listening to what you want to say? Occupying Central will only affect the HongKong people and gives no real benefits. If you want to pass the message through, China is the place you need to go.
Hong Kong is part of China, not West, not U.S., and certainly not some mythical international standard. I hate to pop the illusion those democracy advocates have since China has been hands off in dealing with Hong Kong. Even Singapore with her independent status knows when to be circumspect in dealing with her neighbors, not to mention draconian with her dissidents. Unlike people like Martin Lee who probably have their British or U.S. passport ready most people in Hong Kong will have their fate bound with China. So stop acting like spoiled brats and face reality.
Hong Kong is over - ruined by the stupidity of children and failed politicians who are as about as relevant as a dead dog! Sholarism is fueled by hatred and jealousy and naivety. These kids demand democracy but could not care less about the damage they do to Hong Kong's reputation, as long as they get their moment of fame ....
"Let's see the PLA march into HK shooting civilians. That'll bring in the UN and it's Allied nations, and would be the end of the Chinese Communist Party."
Thank you very much. You have spoken the unspeakable for many demonstrators and SCMP hate-China readers. What you truly want happen is not just complete chaos 一拍兩散 but widespread macabre violence 玉石俱焚 with news headlines flashed all over the world.
Unfortunately, your wishful thinking won't pan out. There isn't a thing the US clique could do within and without the UN.
The US had killed hundreds of thousands in Iraq. NATO airstrikes and support murdered tens of thousands Libyans to change their regime. The violence there is getting worse. With their installed puppet in Kiev, the US and NATO allies have helped to kill more than 2,000 in East Ukraine. Israel is getting even more weapons from the US to replenish spent ones after killing thousands in Gaza. Have any war criminals been singled out and charged yet? Punishing the Beijing government? Just dream on.
We are lucky that the CCP is so much more civilized than the Western democracies that you want so badly to emulate. If anything, Occupy Central will make China stronger, although Hong Kong will continue to be on its downward spiral, not because of our incompetence but the malicious sabotage of our well being and social fabric by self-hate Chinese like Martin Lee, Anson Chan, and Benny Tai under the Democracy Cult banner.



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