Three leaders of the pro-democracy protests that have occupied Hong Kong for over two months announced that they planned to surrender to police on Wednesday. Amid escalating confrontations between protesters and police, Benny Tai, Chan Kin-man, and Chu Yiu-ming, who founded the Occupy Central with Love and Peace movement, asked protesters to retreat and stated that they would bear the legal consequences for the demonstrations.
“For the sake of the occupiers’ safety, for the sake of our original intention of love and peace, as we prepare to surrender, we three urge the students to retreat — to put down deep roots in the community and transform the movement to extend the spirit of the Umbrella Movement,” the three wrote in an open letter. “Surrendering is not an act of cowardice, it is the courage to act on a promise.”
Though Occupy Central was the original leader of the protests, which have demanded free elections for Hong Kong’s Chief Executive — candidates are currently vetted and approved by Beijing — student groups have recently lead the charge, and have made no sign that they plan to heed calls to retreat. Eighteen-year-old student leader Joshua Wong has begun a hunger strike with two other members of his group Scholarism, demanding that the government restart talks. “I know it is really harmful to my body, however it is the only way to give pressure to the government to get a meeting with us,” he told CNN. “If the government can have a proper meeting with Scholarism to discuss whether political reform will be launched immediately, we will stop the hunger strike.”
On Monday, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying repeated that the government position on the elections would not change.
Source: Foreign Policy / Dec. 2, 2014