Hong Kong police target Occupy's 'principal instigators' after all sites cleared
Commissioner Andy Tsang says he hopes probe can be completed within three months
Hours after the last Occupy site in Causeway Bay was cleared yesterday, Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung announced that the force would arrest the "principal instigators" and aim to finish its investigations within three months.
Police revealed that close to 1,000 people had been arrested since Occupy began, while over 900 had had their identity card numbers recorded as of yesterday. This came as Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying declared the end of the protests.
Leung said that seeking democracy at the expense of rule of law was not real democracy, adding: "With the completion of the clearance in Causeway Bay, the occupation that has lasted for more than two months in Hong Kong is over."
Watch: Hong Kong police clear last major Occupy protest site; 17 arrested
Chairing his first media briefing since Occupy began, Tsang, alongside four other top-level officers, said the police would devote extra resources for investigations involving the "principal instigators" of Occupy Central.
"Our target is to complete all investigation within three months," Tsang said.
During Occupy, some 221 protesters required medical treatment and were assisted by police, while 130 police officers sustained injuries, none of them serious. A total of 75 individuals had surrendered to police as of yesterday.
Tsang also said deployment would be stepped up over the Christmas and New Year holiday period to prevent any reoccupy attempts or illegal protests.
It is also understood that the force would maintain Solar Peak, the name given to its operation set up to handle the Occupy protests, during the holidays, with 7,000 officers divided into two 12-hour shifts, deployed or on stand-by at locations where Occupy happened.
Tsang also dismissed suggestions there were political considerations behind the all-out clearance, which took place before President Xi Jinping visits Macau later this week.
While the force's Complaints Against Police Office has so far received Occupy-related complaints from 1,972 individuals, Tsang said the police "had remained steadfast, devoted and forbearing at this critical time".
"Police have all along been the most tolerant and restrained in the hope of avoiding any major clashes or bloodshed," Tsang said. "The relatively peaceful end to the illegal Occupy movement that we see today is a result of the appropriate measures we took."
In Causeway Bay yesterday, 17 protesters - including a man in his 90s who was arrested twice after joining sit-ins and a Beijing native who joined the 1989 pro-democracy student movement in Tiananmen Square - were arrested after the site was cleared in about an hour.
Feelings appeared to be mixed after the site was cleared.
Yee Wo Street resident Arjun Bharadwaj, 25, said he was sad to see the protesters cleared. "This is the first time I have seen protests this peaceful," he said.
But a dispensary owner was relieved. "I've never seen anything take such a toll on business. At least we could sell disinfectant during the Sars outbreak [of 2003]," he said, pointing to a 30 per cent drop in business since Occupy began.
Most of the dozens of protesters who remained on the grounds of the Legislative Council yesterday also packed and left on their own without any police intervention. However, security guards had to carry out one man.