HONG KONG -- A court in the city has rejected an appeal by pro-democracy protest groups against injunctions that require demonstrators to leave areas of the city that they have been occupying for six weeks.
Lawyers for the protesters had argued that the court should not address public order issues through civil litigation, and that the plaintiffs in the case -- two taxi drivers' groups and a minibus company -- had not proved that they had suffered any "particular, direct and substantial loss," according to RTHK. However, Justice Au, the presiding judge, ruled that the protesters’ case for an appeal was unsound, and refused to delay the injunction.
The move clears the way for bailiffs and police to commence attempts to clear protesters and remove barricades from the bustling shopping district of Mong Kok, and the area surrounding the Citic tower, a commercial building that is across the street from the Hong Kong government's headquarters, which has been the focal point of the occupation protests.
The owners of the building, along with the plaintiffs, had applied for injunctions against protesters. Kwoon Chung, the minibus company, and Golden Investment Ltd., the owners of the Citic tower, have both claimed to have lost at least HK$ 3 million (about $386,000) in revenues since the protests began, according to the South China Morning Post.
Despite the appeal's rejection, action to remove protesters off the back of the injunctions is only likely to happen Friday at the earliest, or early next week. Before the injunctions can be enforced, the plaintiffs are required to post notices in newspapers advising protesters to leave. In addition, the bailiffs required to enforce the injunctions do not work weekends, according to the South China Morning Post.
Lester Shum, deputy secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, urged demonstrators late Wednesday not to leave if police attempt to clear the site. Shum said he would be willing to accept arrest and invoke civil disobedience as legal justification in a court proceeding.
Protesters in the city want the 2017 elections for the city's chief executive to be conducted in line with “international standards” of democracy, while the government insists that any candidates for the post must be vetted by a committee widely viewed as loyal to China's ruling Communist party.