China

Top Hong Kong official urges students to leave protests

A general view of the Admiralty camp, occupied by pro-democracy supporters of Occupy Central and the Umbrella Movement for over two months, as seen on the final day before the Hong Kong police and bailiffs intend to clear the major six lane highway back to normal, Hong Kong, China, 10 December 2014. Image copyright EPA
Image caption Scores of tents and protesters remain at the Admiralty camp on the eve of Thursday's clearance

The top civil servant in Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, has urged students to vacate the the main protest camp on the eve of its expected clearance.

The authorities are preparing to clear the Admiralty camp on Thursday morning on the orders of the high court.

Student leaders have vowed to remain until the last minute to peacefully resist the action.

The protesters are demanding fully democratic elections for the city's chief executive.

Clashes broke out when the Mong Kok camp was cleared last month.

Ms Lam told reporters: "I will appeal to [students] that they should abide by what they have said all along, and that is to adopt a peaceful, orderly and non-violent approach with a view to avoiding unnecessary confrontation with the police."

She called on parents and teachers to persuade the students to leave and not return to the Admiralty camp.

"Once the police operation is under way, and knowing very well that there are some radical elements amongst the protesters, confrontation might become inevitable,'' Ms Lam said.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Ms Lam is the city's number two top official, after chief executive CY Leung

Her appeal came as Alex Chow of the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Joshua Wong of Scholarism said they planned to remain at the camps.

"We will still resist till the last moment,'' said Mr Chow, who promised that students would not engage in violence.

Students put up signs around the Admiralty site declaring "We will be back" as many residents came by to snap photos before the clearance.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Some wrote the sign in balloon letters...
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Others chalked their message on the road
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A large banner was draped on the highway

Various business and industry groups have been applying for injunctions at the high court to clear the protest sites, as public support has waned.

Last month the authorities removed a small portion of the Admiralty protest camp at Citic Tower, which proceeded peacefully. It was in stark contrast to their demolition of the Mong Kok site later, resulting in bloody clashes and several arrests.

Apart from the camp in Admiralty, there is one still active in Causeway Bay.

While the court order covers three portions of the Admiralty site, including the main Connaught Road area, Hong Kong police spokesman Cheung Tak-keung said officers would remove obstructions from nearby roads.

He also said they would clear away barricades from the Causeway Bay site "at an appropriate time".

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