HK Occupy founders surrender
THE original founders of Hong Kong's pro-democracy Occupy movement surrendered to police yesterday in a symbolic move, as they seek to take the protests off the streets after more than two months of rallies.
The three founders - law professor Benny Tai, sociology professor Chan Kin Man and Reverend Chu Yiu Ming, a Baptist minister - turned themselves in a day after calling on students to retreat from protest sites, and just hours after student leader Joshua Wong had called on supporters to regroup.
They emerged from the police station soon after, saying they had not been arrested despite admitting to "participating in unauthorised assembly".
"We have not been arrested so we are allowed to leave with no restriction on our liberty," said Professor Tai.
However he added: "I don't think the matter will be resolved on this occasion. Later we may be arrested, even prosecuted for more serious offences. We still have to wait and see."
The three were joined by outspoken 82-year-old Cardinal Joseph Zen, who also gave himself up. The former head of the territory's Catholic Church is a prominent pro-democracy supporter and critic of China.
The police said 24 people aged between 33 and 82 had also surrendered for "taking part in an unauthorised assembly", and the authorities would conduct follow-up investigations based on the information provided.
While there was no specific warrant out for the founders' arrest, the Hong Kong and Chinese authorities have consistently slammed the protests as illegal.
Prof Tai said the Occupy movement would now take a different approach to promoting its cause, including through education and a new social charter.
The Occupy "surrender" came after violent clashes between protesters and the police left dozens injured on Sunday.
Jean Pierre Cabestan, an expert in Chinese politics at Hong Kong Baptist University, said the Occupy movement was "in tatters".
"The trouble and one of the weaknesses of the movement is there's not much coordination between the Hong Kong Federation of Students and the pan-democrats," he told foreign correspondents in Beijing.
The protesters are united in their calls for democracy but are split over tactics.
This was reflected yesterday, when students defied calls for them to retreat and vowed to stay put at protest sites. Some, like leader Wong, who is on a hunger strike, said they would continue "suffering pain for justice".
AFP, REUTERS, BLOOMBERG