Backed by a court order, workers removed some barricades today from a Hong Kong democracy protest site where activists have camped out for nearly two months in a standoff with authorities. Student-led demonstrators, who have been protesting for greater democracy in the former British colony, did not resist: Some had already moved their tents to other parts of the protest zone ahead of the clearance operation, which was observed by dozens of court bailiffs, police officers, and reporters. Others actually helped take down barricades, reports Reuters; they say it will allow them to use the fence sections in another location, rather than losing them altogether.
The protesters oppose the Chinese government's requirement for a panel of Beijing-friendly elites to screen candidates in the inaugural 2017 election for Hong Kong's top official, and leaders of a student group that have played a key role in organizing the street protests say they want to meet with senior Chinese leaders. But when three of them tried to fly to Beijing on Saturday, they were denied boarding because their permits to enter mainland China were invalid. Many protesters suspect that the authorities will resort to more court orders to gradually clear out the protest zones after previous attempts using other methods failed. "Before they tried to use police to do it, after that they found triads. Now they're going to use bailiffs and injunctions," says one protester. "They're going to use legal principles and court orders, but we still won't be afraid." (Read more Hong Kong stories.)