Occupy Central Hong Kong supporters ready to block traffic and go to jail for democracy
Three-tiered strategy includes blocking traffic and being prepared to go to jail to press the case for universal suffrage
Plans were revealed yesterday for political protesters to block traffic in the heart of the city in July next year, unless the government delivers an acceptable proposal for universal suffrage.
But the civil disobedience plan - dubbed the Let Love and Peace Occupy Central movement - would be "absolutely non-violent", organisers said as they unveiled the campaign's manifesto at a news conference at the Kowloon Union Church.
The press conference marked the official launch of the controversial plan first proposed in January by Dr Benny Tai Yiu-ting, an associate professor of law at the University of Hong Kong.
The blueprint sets out the steps to be taken, finishing with the "occupy action" in Central, if the government fails to deliver a proposal for universal suffrage that is in line with international democratic standards.
"Civic awakening will determine the success of the movement," Tai said yesterday. "We shall be like preachers communicating enthusiastically with different communities to convey universal values such as democracy, universal and equal suffrage, justice and righteousness … We hope [Hong Kong people] will be willing to pay the price."
Tai said he was hoping that at least 10,000 people would participate. He said he was expecting them to support the movement in various ways, from performing acts of civil disobedience to risking arrest and agreeing to plead no contest at trial.
"The participants should resolve to accept going to jail - for how long, I don't know. Teachers and some professionals might lose their qualifications," Tai said.
"There will be a price to pay, but participants should not be worried about losing their lives."
Commerce sector lawmaker Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, also an Executive Council member, said he feared the campaign could damage the city's reputation as an international financial centre.
Fellow Exco member Starry Lee Wai-king, of the Beijing-loyalist Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, urged the public not to break the law and to instead debate political reforms.
Tai was joined by Chan Kin-man, associate professor of sociology at Chinese University, and the Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, a respected pro-democracy leader.
Chan said participants would submit to arrest without resistance.
"Many people think we want to paralyse Central, but all we want is self-sacrifice," he said. "Police can arrest us and no violence should occur. If the government announces a state of emergency, it will be [escalating the incident] on purpose."
Chu offered no details as to where the road blockade would take place or how long it would last, saying only that it wouldcertainly occur "on thoroughfares in the centre of Central".