“Occupy Central with Love and Peace” was the pro-democracy protester’s motto as they sought democratic change in Hong Kong, but on Sunday things got violent.
Police used tear gas for the first time since 2005, and protest organisers ordered their supporters to fall back when they thought police were about to use rubber bullets. Dozens of people have been injured and arrested, and the authorities fear the unrest will spill into the new working week and bring chaos to the central business district.
Student and pro-democracy organisers admitted they had lost control of the situation, but expressed the opinion they had to act to prevent Beijing-vetted candidates being their only choices in the next elections.
“The Hong Kong government is resolute in opposing the unlawful occupation actions by Occupy Central. The police shall continue to handle the situation in accordance with the law,” said Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-Ying.
Hong Kong has a special status within the People’s Republic following its return from Britain in 1997 with limited democratic rights and freedoms unthinkable on the Chinese mainland.