Hongkong, 2 December, 2014: Hong Kong’s teenage protest leader Joshua Wong has begun a hunger strike with two other protesters in his latest attempt to secure talks with the government over protesters’ demands for democracy.
“Our humble demand is to ask for dialogue,” said Wong, 18, who wants open elections for Hong Kong’s next leader. Beijing has said Hong Kong may hold elections, but only if the candidates are nominated by a small committee.
Hong Kong’s chief executive C.Y. Leung responded to news of the hunger strike by telling students to “take care of their health, especially in this cold weather.” Hong Kong’s temperature has dipped to a crisp 15 degrees Celsius (59 Fahrenheit) after months of hot and humid weather.
Wong’s hunger strike is an attempt to rally a movement which has shown growing signs of fracture. After more than two months of camping out on an eight-lane highway in Hong Kong’s Admiralty district, the government has shown no willingness to make concessions and the movement’s momentum has sputtered.
Desperate for a breakthrough, student leaders called on supporters to try to surround Hong Kong’s government headquarters Sunday night, leading to a violent nighttime standoff with police in which protesters were bloodied and ultimately beaten back.
The next morning, police briefly moved on the main protest site, removing some tents, banners, and barricades before withdrawing.
Student leader Alex Chow, 24, of the Hong Kong Federation of Students bowed his head in an apology to supporters Monday.
“We aimed to disrupt the operation of the government… but the plan had room to improve and in a sense it failed.”
Before dawn Monday, at least 40 arrests had been made in Admiralty, according to the Hong Kong Police. A further 12 people were also arrested in Mong Kok.
The Central Government Office was closed on Monday morning but later re-opened.
The government said it condemned “violent radicals,” saying they had “provoked and verbally abused police officers” and encouraged others to charge police lines.