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Hong Kong protesters are coming under 'organised attack' from locals

The three main protester groups have called on the government to intervene, and have said they will not engage in talks until the attacks end.
Oct 3rd 2014, 2:37 PM 6,395 33

HONG KONG PRO-DEMOCRACY protest leaders have vowed to call off talks with the government unless “organised attacks” on supporters stop, as ugly and chaotic scenes broke out at previously peaceful demonstrations in the city.

Opposition groups clashed with the pro-democracy protesters in one of Hong Kong’s busiest shopping districts, with the activists saying they believed the violence had been orchestrated by hired hands brought in to stir up trouble.

Local residents have attempted to remove some of the protester’s structures, angry that roads have been blocked.

The three main protest groups issued a statement today calling for the government to step in.

“Organised attacks”

“If the government does not immediately prevent the organised attacks on supporters of the Occupy movement, the students will call off dialogue on political reform with the government,” they said in a statement.

Talks had been promised by Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who is under pressure from protesters to resign as they demand democratic reforms, but there was no sign Friday that they had begun as tensions sharply rose.

Thousands of people crowded the streets as demonstrators faced off against a group of anti-protesters in shopping district Mong Kok after they started to dismantle barricades in an apparent backlash against the protests.

Police tried to hold back angry demonstrators who surrounded the pro-democracy protesters at a junction they had been occupying for five days. Some students backed away toward an underground rail station, while others were driven back by cheering groups.

One small group chanted “I want genuine democracy”, while a crowd yelled at them to “Go home!” as police struggled to contain the confrontation.

Police urged all sides to “stay calm and exercise restraint” in what they described in a statement as a “chaotic situation” in Mong Kok.

Some locals have criticised the demonstrations, with local shopkeepers claiming a massive downturn in business.

While the United States, Europe and Japan have all expressed their concern at the scenes playing out in one of the world’s leading financial capitals, China insisted that there was “no room to make concessions on important principles”.

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“Fake democracy”

On August 31, China said Hong Kongers would be able to vote for their next chief executive in 2017 — but that only candidates vetted by a loyalist committee would be allowed to stand, a decision dismissed as “fake democracy” by campaigners.

Demonstrators had set a midnight Thursday ultimatum for Leung to resign and for Beijing to abandon the proposals to vet candidates.

Leung refused to quit, but in a dramatic televised appearance shortly before the midnight deadline he appointed his deputy to sit down with a prominent students’ group that has been at the vanguard of the protests.

Mistrust was rife that Leung was merely trying to buy time in the hope that the Hong Kong public will tire of the disruption caused by the mass sit-ins.

- © AFP, 2014

Read: Hong Kong’s leader to protesters – ‘I will not resign’ >

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