The original founders of the Occupy Central campaign, who provided a template for the Umbrella Movement protests, will hand themselves in to police tomorrow at 3pm.
At a press conference this afternoon, Chan Kin-man, Benny Tai and Chu Yiu-ming said that they did not know whether they will be detained or told to leave by police. Tai said that “to surrender is not to fail. It’s a silent denunciation of a heartless government.“
Tai called upon students at the occupy sites to retreat for their own safety as “some of the front line police officers seem to be out of control”.
Chan said that the movement should continue in the courts, setting out how the Occupy Central would continue in four parts. Continued debates, community reach-out, the promotion of democractic education and social charters would now be at the centre of the ongoing campaign.
— Tom Grundy (@tomgrundy) December 2, 2014
The Occupy Central campaigners have generally taken a back seat to the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholarism groups, who have led the umbrella movement.
In full: Letter to the Hong Kong people:
We will bear the legal consequences and hope the students will retreat to advance
In the two months and more since the Umbrella Movement began, students and citizens have won the praise of the world through their fearless struggle for universal suffrage while upholding the spirit of love and peace. The fight for democracy is a long-term struggle and we believe the Umbrella Movement has awakened the democratic aspirations of a whole generation. Tomorrow’s battleground is expansive and now is the time to transform the people’s strength into a sustainable civil society movement, to sow the spirit of democracy deep into the community.
The civil disobedience of the Occupy Central with Love and Peace (OCLP) movement is a response to the government’s turning a blind eye and wanton suppression of lawful protests and rallies. Civil disobedience is about breaking the law in a limited way through peaceful, non-violent means to fight for justice. As it is not the goal of civil disobedience to damage the rule of law, those engaging in it must have the courage to bear the legal consequences. The three initiators of OCLP and some of our supporters have decided to surrender to police tomorrow (3rd December) to demonstrate the spirit of this kind of commitment and responsibility.
We three have abided by the law throughout our lives, but in order to challenge this unjust system, we are willing to face all consequences. To surrender and bear the legal consequences is to respect the rule of law. 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.
In the past two weeks, the police have cracked down hard on protesters in the occupied sites. Our young people have used their bodies to withstand the blows of police batons, their blood and broken bones have brought us the deepest sorrow. We respect the students’ and citizens’ determination to fight for democracy, and we are furious at the government’s heartless indifference. A government that uses police batons to maintain its authority is a government that is beyond reason. For the sake of the occupiers’ safety, for the sake of our original intention of love and peace, as we prepare to surrender, we three urge the students to retreat – to put down deep roots in the community and transform the movement to extend the spirit of the Umbrella Movement.
OCLP has decided to transform the direction of its work in the following ways:
Debates in the courts and professional organisations – through their defence in the courts, those who engage in civil disobedience can explain their original intentions to society. There may also be debates within universities and other professional organizations about whether those who have borne the legal consequences of their civil disobedience may resume their professional duties. These debates will bring the issues of universal suffrage and civil disobedience to different groups and communities.
Work in the Community – Many OCLP volunteers have already established a new platform, using various means to conduct community education on democracy and human rights, and to promote equality and mutual help through action.
Aid democratic education – OCLP has approached the Hong Kong Democratic Development Network. The Network has agreed to fund groups and individuals who wish to promote democratic education in the community.
Social Charter – Benny Tai and Chan Kin-man hope to, with the help of others, draft a social charter. We hope that apart from gathering strength to protect our core values, different sectors (such as the environment, arts and culture, the media, education, social welfare etc.) can come up with some action plans to create a space that belongs to the people through the strength of civil society.
In the past, we three have advocated the spirit of using love and peace and civil disobedience to gain genuine universal suffrage. In the past two months, the students from the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholarism have worked tirelessly around the clock for the movement. They have the courage to contribute. We hope they can recuperate and build up strength in order to continue on the long road to democracy. In Hong Kong, the 800,000 people who took part in the civil referendum, the 500,000 people who took part in the July 1st march, the 200,000 people who fearlessly braved tear gas, they all expressed the people’s desire for equal political rights. Yet, the Leung Chun-ying government has been unmoved and unfeeling, it only knows how to respond using force. Where is the government’s willingness to undertake its responsibilities? We mourn for Hong Kong. God bless our city!
Benny Tai Yiu-ting Chan Kin-man Chu Yiu-ming
Update following yesterday’s developments: