HONG KONG — At least one of the three main pro-
democracy protest groups that have virtually shut down the
city for almost a week called off crisis talks with the
government Friday, blaming authorities for failing to
protect them from attacks by opponents.
The skirmishes erupted in several areas of Hong Kong as
people opposed to the continued occupation of key
business areas clashed with demonstrators determined to
maintain their blockades.
“The government allowed the mafia to attack peaceful
Occupy participants,” the Hong Kong Federation of Students
said in a statement, the BBC reports. “It has cut off the path
to a dialogue, and should be responsible for the
“The government has not kept its promis,” the group added.
“We have no choice but to shelve the talks.”
It was not clear whether the statement reflected the
position of other groups involved in the protest, according
to the BBC.
Occupy Central leader Benny Tai told the BBC that the
group is only considering a boycott of talks, but that the
attacks were undermining efforts to defuse the crisis.
“At this point it’s very, very difficult to maintain any sense of
dialogue if the government does not stop these things
happening to peaceful protesters,” he said, according to the
The three main pro-democracy groups — Hong Kong
Federation of Students, Scholarism and Occupy Central with
Love and Peace — had warned in a joint statement earlier
that if the government did not immediately prevent the
organized attacks on protesters “the students will call off
dialogue on political reform with the government.”
After almost a week of peaceful protest and mass civil
disobedience, Hong Kong’s leader had said Thursday night
that his deputy would hold talks with student
representatives on constitutional reform. Restrictive
election proposals issued by the Chinese central
government, which took control of Hong Kong in 1997,
sparked widespread public opposition, and brought tens of
thousands of people into Hong Kong’s streets.
By Friday, a work day after a two-day vacation for China’s
National Day, some residents clashed with protesters over
the continued disruption to their daily lives and businesses.
The worst clashes occurred in Mong Kok. At Causeway Bay,
on Hong Kong Island, at least 20 mostly older residents
protested the continued blockade of normally busy
“The protesters are so extreme, they influence the whole of
society, I think they’ve been paid to do this,” complained
Raymond Nip, 67, who said he was unable to take his
grandchildren to school. “We want to keep things as they
are now, we don’t need to change,” Nip said of the Occupy
movement’s demands for political reform. “Hong Kong is
fine now,” he said.
While numbers were significantly down on previous days,
many students busied themselves maintaining barricades,
and manning supply stations. “The protests may shrink to a
smaller area, but we will keep roads shut for one to two
months,” said Edward Lim, 17, in Admiralty, the key protest
zone beside the Hong Kong government headquarters. We
will never give up and people power will never lose,” he
said Thursday morning.
“I would like to appeal to members of the public that they
should observe the laws of Hong Kong when they are
expressing their views,” police spokesman Steve Hui said
when asked about the confrontation in Mong Kok, a
working class area far from the main protest site in
downtown Hong Kong, the Admiralty area near the
territory’s government headquarters.
The protests, led mostly by university students, have been
in the streets since last Friday, pushing for the Chinese
government to reverse its recent decision requiring a
mostly pro-Beijing committee approve candidates for Hong
Kong’s first election to choose the territory’s leader in 2017.
The demonstrators want open nominations.
The protests are the biggest challenge to Beijing’s authority
since China took control of the former British colony in
Student protesters had threatened to surround or occupy
government buildings if the city’s chief executive, Leung
Chun-ying, did not step down by Thursday, and police had
warned of serious consequences if they did that. Late
Thursday, Leung held a news conference to offer the talks,
but said “I will not resign.”