Activists say Beijing ‘strangled’ democracy

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iol pic wld HKG103_CHINA-HONGKONG-_0902_11 Reuters A pro-democracy activist is detained by police during a confrontation outside the hotel where China's National People's Congress Standing Committee Deputy General Secretary Li Fei is staying, in Hong Kong. Picture: Tyrone Siu

Hong Kong - A pro-democracy movement that has threatened to blockade Hong Kong's financial district has said Beijing “brutally strangled” its fight for full democracy and vowed to take action.

On Monday, Hong Kong police used pepper spray to disperse pro-democracy activists after China's parliament had rejected democrats' demands for the right to freely choose Hong Kong's next leader at an election in 2017.

“We Hongkongers won't accept failure in our road to democracy,” the Occupy Central with Love and Peace movement said in a statement emailed to reporters late on Tuesday.

Pro-democracy activists had threatened to lock down the city's financial district on an unspecified date unless China grants full democracy.

A Bloomberg report on Tuesday quoted Occupy Central with Love and Peace movement founder Benny Tai as saying support for the group had dwindled after Beijing's decision to rule out direct elections in 2017.

It also quoted Tai as saying the group might not be able to draw the expected 10 000 demonstrators to lock down the heart of the Asian financial centre - home to global companies and banks such as HSBC Holdings and Standard Chartered - because of the “very pragmatic thinking” of Hong Kong people.

However, the Occupy movement said that was not the case.

“It is not correct to say that we have less support from the community after Beijing has made the decision,” the latest statement said.

“Although some pragmatic supporters may leave, new supporters are joining us because they are angry about the Chinese government's decision,” it said.

Occupy Central has launched a campaign of civil disobedience in recent months, calling for full democracy with an unofficial referendum, marches and sit-ins. There have been clashes with police.

Beijing has responded by saying Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China, subject to Communist Party rule. Beijing has said it will permit a vote for Hong Kong's next chief executive, but only among a handful of pre-screened candidates. - Reuters


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