Hong Kong Police Clear Protesters, Barricades at Key Site
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Hundreds of Hong Kong police staged their biggest and boldest raid yet on a pro-democracy protest camp before dawn on Friday, charging down student-led activists who have held a key intersection in one of the main protest zones for more than three weeks.
The operation in the gritty and congested Mong Kok district - across the harbor from the heart of the civil disobedience movement near government headquarters - came while many protesters were asleep on the asphalt in dozens of tents or beneath giant, blue-striped tarpaulin sheets.
The raid was a gamble for the 28,000-strong police force in the Chinese-controlled city who have come under criticism for mounting aggressive clearance operations using tear gas, baton charges and a violent beating of a handcuffed protester by seven policemen on Wednesday.
Storming into the intersection with helmets, plastic riot shields and batons at the ready from four directions, the deployment of 800 officers caught the protesters by surprise. Many retreated without resisting, Reuters reported.
"The Hong Kong government's despicable clearance here will cause another wave of citizen protests," said radio talk show host and activist Wong Yeung-tat, who donned protective goggles over his white-rimmed glasses and sported a boxer's sparring pad on his arm as a makeshift shield.
The police sweep of the protest camp in Mong Kok had been expected for several days. It further reduces the number of protest sites that have paralyzed parts of the Asian financial hub since September 28, but could reignite retaliation.
"We have urged protesters to maintain a kind of floating protest strategy to guard the streets," said Wong, flanked by protesters who stared down advancing lines of uniformed police.
Police gave a short warning on loud hailers before moving in although no direct force was used, witnesses said.
The protesters, led by a restive younger generation of students, have been demanding China's Communist Party rulers live up to constitutional promises to grant full democracy to the former British colony which returned to Chinese rule in 1997.