In a dramatic development to the Occupy Central pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, the three original founders of the protest announced Tuesday that they would “surrender” by turning themselves over to the police. The trio also urged demonstrators, who have picketed the city's streets for weeks, to retreat, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.
“As we prepare to surrender, we three urge the students to retreat – to put down deep roots in the community and transform the movement,” Occupy Central leader Benny Tai said, according to AFP. “Surrendering is not an act of cowardice, it is the courage to act on a promise. To surrender is not to fail, it is a silent denunciation of a heartless government,” Tai said, adding that it was time for protesters to leave “this dangerous place.”
The announcement came after violent clashes between hundreds of protesters and police on Sunday left dozens injured. According to reports, it was the worst night of violence since pro-democracy rallies began in the city over two months ago.
Hours after the conflict, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying had warned that security forces would take “resolute action” against those defying orders to vacate the streets, and the government issued a statement criticizing protesters for showing “blatant disregard for the law.”
— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) December 2, 2014
On Tuesday, Tai said that he and the other two leaders -- Chan Kin-man and Chu Yiu-ming -- would surrender to police on Wednesday, showing their commitment to the rule of law and “the principle of peace and love.”
Although the three leaders initially spearheaded the pro-democracy movement in the city, it was later taken over by groups of student protesters who advocated a more combative approach to making their demands heard.
On Monday, three of the student protesters announced that they would stage a hunger strike until Leung agreed to a fresh round of talks with the protest’s leaders. “We have no other way when facing a broken government but to let go our bodily desires,” protesters said in a letter announcing the hunger strike.