Last remnants of Hong Kong's protest camp cleared away

Workers washing the sidewalk after the clearance of the last pro-democracy site in Hong Kong. A ruling from Beijing sparked off the public protests over how Hong Kong chooses its next leader in 2017.
Workers washing the sidewalk after the clearance of the last pro-democracy site in Hong Kong. A ruling from Beijing sparked off the public protests over how Hong Kong chooses its next leader in 2017.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

HONG KONG - The last remnants of the tent city that once blocked a major highway through Hong Kong during mass pro-democracy protests was cleared away by the city authorities yesterday.

The camp of about 150 tents outside the legislature - complete with flower pots, a study area and large colourful banners - was a final outpost of the former Admiralty rally site that was cleared in December.

The public protests over how Hong Kong chooses its next leader in 2017 were sparked by a ruling from Beijing last year that all candidates must be vetted by a loyalist committee.

Campaigners derided the Bill as "fake democracy" and tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to object.

The proposal was finally voted down by pro-democracy lawmakers last week and many of those who had made the "Tim Mei New Village" camp their home prepared to move as police indicated a clearance was imminent.

All that remained yesterday were some ramshackle tents and piles of unwanted belongings such as sofas, mannequins, mugs, toys and slippers.

Dozens of government officials moved in with brooms and saws to dismantle the tents, while trucks waited to transport the debris away.

A small group of protesters looked on through the grey morning drizzle and uniformed police also watched from the sidelines.

Some protesters said they disagreed with the clearance of what the authorities said was an "illegal" camp.

"I feel very helpless - there are still a lot of issues at stake... there's no reason to clear it all," said Ms Qing Lam, in her 30s.

Mr Benny Mok, 51, who works as a surveyor, said he had been at the site for 270 days and called the clearance "suppression without reason".

"(It is) a PR show to make it appear we are disturbing the people," he said.

But he added that the protests had galvanised younger generations.

"Youth are now becoming more involved in political issues. You would have never imagined that in the past," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2015, with the headline 'Last remnants of Hong Kong's protest camp cleared away'. Print Edition | Subscribe