KONFRONTASI - Hong Kong police have descended on anti-election law protesters, removing barricades from an occupied key district.
In an operation early Friday, hundreds of anti-riot officers took down barricades, tents and canopies in the busy district of Mong Kok.
The operation, which is the third in recent days, came shortly after Hong Kong regional leader, Leung Chun-ying, expressed the government’s readiness to talks with protesters, who demanded his ouster as well as the revocation of a new election law.
“We would like to start a dialogue to discuss universal suffrage as soon as we can and hopefully within the following week,” Leung told reporters.
Tensions remain high in Hong Kong as other groups of protesters continue occupying key parts of the city. On Thursday, police scuffled with demonstrators, who were trying to block a major road near Leung’s office.
Police reportedly used paper-spray to disperse the protesters and arrested dozens of them.
The demonstrators first took to the streets on September 26 after China refused to allow open nominations for the region’s next chief executive in 2017, leaving voters with the only option of having to choose from a list of two or three candidates selected by a nominating committee.
Protesters demand full authority to elect a successor to Leung, whom they want to resign. The Chinese government, however, has strongly condemned the protests, calling them illegal.
Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China. The financial hub has enjoyed substantial political autonomy since 1997, when its leadership returned to China after about a century of British colonial rule.[presstv]