Key figures from Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protest movement have been asked to turn themselves in to police to face possible prosecution for their role in recent street demonstrations.
The list of those called to report to police in the coming days include student leader Alex Chow and teenage activist Joshua Wong.
More than 30 people are expected to be arrested in relation to protest-related investigations, according to local media reports. Some have been told they will be charged with organising and inciting unlawful assembly.
“In the next few days, I have to commute crazily between the court and the police station. I might be exhausted,” said Mr Wong. “But we don’t have the space to retreat while the authorities are suppressing our future. We have to bite the bullet and make efforts to turn things round.”
Three leaders of Occupy Central, the main campaign groups, previously turned themselves in to police on December 3, but were released without charge.
The Hong Kong police said: “Police will impartially continue conducting thorough and in-depth investigations and gathering evidence. We won’t rule out arrests (of activists).”
Rimsky Yuen, secretary for justice, on Monday declined to give detailed response when asked about possible prosecutions, as “the police are still investigating at this stage”.
From late September to mid-December, demonstrators blocked a number a major roads in three areas of Hong Kong to protest government plans for electoral reform.
During the near three-month sit-in, tensions flared a number of times, resulting in sometimes violent confrontations with the police, and with those opposed to the disruption.
In the early days of the movement, police used tear gas — a rarity in the largely peaceful territory — in an attempt to disperse thousands of protesters who had gathered in one of Hong Kong’s main business districts.
Perceptions of police heavy-handedness, heightened by the filmed beating of a handcuffed activist, briefly caused demonstrator numbers to swell.
However, protester ranks thinned significantly in the following weeks, while a televised dialogue between student leaders and officials proved fruitless. In mid-December, the sites were cleared by bailiffs carrying out court orders to reopen the roads to traffic.
Protesters had been calling for the government to rethink its plans for a new voting system due to be introduced in 2017, when the next Hong Kong chief executive will be chosen.
Reform plans will result in about 5m residents getting the vote for the first time, but the list of candidates is to be vetted by a 1,200-strong committee drawn from the city’s elite. Demonstrators want the nomination process thrown open to the public.
On Tuesday, the Hong Kong government submitted a new report to the Chinese leadership, detailing political events of the past few months.
Some protesters complained previously that local officials had downplayed the level of discontent during discussions with Beijing about Hong Kong politics.
Carrie Lam, the territory’s chief secretary, will on Wednesday launch the government’s second round of public consultations over proposed electoral reform.
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