POLITICS
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Occupy Central

Occupy Central leaders shave heads to show ‘determination for democracy’

Movement's founders and supporters shave their heads for democracy

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 September, 2014, 4:47pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 September, 2014, 6:11pm

In a gesture they said showed their determination to fight for true democracy, the Occupy Central movement's three founders joined 43 supporters in shaving their heads en masse.

But the event was disrupted by pro-Beijing activists chanting slogans condemning the campaign. A 29-year-old woman was hurt when scuffles broke out. The Occupy volunteer was taken to hospital with head and arm injuries but her condition was not known by press time. The three men and a woman were arrested for assault and detained.

Watch: Occupy Central leaders and supporters shave their heads 'for democracy’

Benny Tai Yiu-ting, an associate professor of law at the University of Hong Kong and one of the Occupy founders, said the move to cut off all their hair symbolised their refusal to accept the tough rules Beijing laid down for the 2017 chief executive election.

The action "will show our determination for Hong Kong to have democracy ... One is willing to give up something he or she considers to be precious to fight for something that is more important," said Tai, who was joined by the civil disobedience movement's co-founders Dr Chan Kin-man and Reverend Chu Yiu-ming. "Today, we are going to give up our hair - and tomorrow, our freedom, to fight for democracy," he said. "We are not going to give up our dignity … the Chinese government will be able to see our determination."

Occupy Central organisers vowed to mobilise 10,000 people to block roads in the business hub in the near future after Beijing spelled out a restrictive framework for the 2017 chief executive poll. According to the blueprint, a nominating committee of 1,200 people would effectively screen out candidates Beijing would not want on the ballot.

A cellist played Ode to Joy and We Shall Overcome as the activists had their heads shaved at the St Bonaventure Church in Tsz Wan Shan. Those going under the clippers included former Democratic Party chairman Dr Yeung Sum and lawmaker Wu Chi-wai. Retired civil servants, lawyers, teachers and students from secondary schools and universities also took part.

"We are tired of all the fallacies. The unfair system will continue and more bullying will come if Hongkongers refuse to speak up," said one of the activists, Thomas Pun Wai-chung, who used to work for pro-Beijing lawmaker Chan Kam-lam.

Former Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan was one of the few female participants. She had worried the haircut would affect her work as a barrister, she said, but decided to do it with just a few hours to spare. "I find it valuable that I can still decide my own hairstyle freely now," she said.

Watch: Benny Tai says this might only be the first Occupy Central.