HONG KONG (AFP) – The clearance of Hong Kong’s main pro-democracy protest camp will begin Thursday when bailiffs move in, authorities said, but some demonstrators vowed to stand their ground after more than two months of rallies.
Public support has waned for a movement which saw tens of thousands take to the street at its height.
Recent violent clashes have sparked fears that radical splinter groups will dig in for the final stage of the occupation of main roads in parts of the city.
Student-led demonstrators are demanding free leadership elections in 2017 for the semi-autonomous Chinese city – but China’s communist authorities insist that candidates must be vetted by a loyalist committee.
A High Court ruling published Tuesday called for the clearance of three sections of the main Admiralty protest site, in the heart of Hong Kong’s business district, where a tent city sprawls across a multi-lane highway.
Bailiffs will enforce the order on Thursday morning with authorities asking protesters to leave voluntarily before then.
But with reports saying that the clearance will go beyond the parameters of the injunction and clear the whole site, some at the camp say they will resist.
“I think if they clear the whole of Admiralty, because the injunction is only for one area, people are going to react violently,” one 27-year-old protester who gave his name as Alex told AFP.
“I don’t agree we should leave without getting any progress. We have been here 73 days and I don’t think it’s the right time to leave.”
The protesters have been unable to wring any concessions out of the authorities in Hong Kong or Beijing, which have branded the demonstrations “illegal”.