Occupy Central with Love and Peace
|Established||27 March 2013|
|Purpose||The election of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong beginning in 2017 by universal suffrage consistent with accepted international standards.|
|The Occupy Central trio:|
|Occupy Central with Love and Peace|
Occupy Central (Chinese: 佔領中環 or 佔中) was a civil disobedience campaign initiated by Benny Tai Yiu-ting, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Hong Kong, and advocated by Occupy Central with Love and Peace (organisation; OCLP; 讓愛與和平佔領中環 or 和平佔中). In the course of the 2014 Hong Kong electoral reform, OCLP intends to pressure the PRC Government into granting an electoral system which "satisf[ies] the international standards in relation to universal suffrage" in Hong Kong Chief Executive election in 2017 as promised according to the Hong Kong Basic Law Article 45. Should such an electoral system not be achieved, OCLP sought to fight for equal suffrage in Hong Kong through civil disobedience means, namely the non-violent occupation of Central.
In 2013 and 2014, OCLP organised three sessions for deliberation and a civic referendum on the voting system to use for the election of the chief executive in 2017. It then submitted to the government the proposal that citizens selected in the referendum. As a response to Beijing's rejection of the proposal, OCLP originally planned to launch the protest campaign on 1 October 2014, the National Day of the People's Republic of China. However, OCLP announced the commencement of Occupy Central on 28 September, in the midst of the heated week-long class boycott organised by Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) and Scholarism. The student strikes developed into a wave of demonstrations, which led to civil disobedience and an occupy movement of unprecedented scale. The protests gradually developed into a non-centralised occupy movement spreading to several areas of Hong Kong that was largely organised by volunteers. OCLP stated that the ongoing protest "[was] the Umbrella Movement, not 'Occupy Central'" and referred to themselves as supporters rather than the organisers of the protest. OCLP was disbanded by the founders when they surrendered to the police in December 2014.
- 1 Background
- 2 Objectives
- 3 Deliberations
- 4 Civic referendum
- 5 Legality
- 6 Reactions
- 7 Umbrella Movement
- 8 Timeline
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
The pro-democracy camp petitioned the Hong Kong government and Beijing for the full implementation of universal suffrage as indicated in the Hong Kong Basic Law Article 45, which delineates the requirements for electing the chief executive. Article 45 and Annex I of the Basic Law govern the election of the chief executive by universal suffrage:
|“||"The chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be selected by election or through consultations held locally and be appointed by the Central People's Government."||”|
|“||"The method for selecting the chief executive shall be specified in the light of the actual situation in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and in accordance with the principle of gradual and orderly progress. The ultimate aim was the selection of the chief executive by universal suffrage upon nomination by a broadly representative nominating committee in accordance with democratic procedures."||”|
In December 2007, the National People's Congress Law Committee officially ruled on the issue of universal suffrage in Hong Kong:
|“||that the election of the fifth chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in the year 2017 may be implemented by the method of universal suffrage; that after the chief executive is selected by universal suffrage, the election of the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region may be implemented by the method of electing all the members by universal suffrage...||”|
The Asia Times wrote in 2008 that both proposals for the Legislative Council (LegCo) and for the chief executive were "hedged in with so many ifs and buts that there is no guarantee of Hong Kong getting anything at all... "
CY Leung, the incumbent chief executive of Hong Kong, was to submit the local government's recommendation to Beijing on how to proceed with democratisation in the territory following consultations. As of July 2014[update] a round of consultations had recently ended, and another round of consultations was to take place in the second half of the year. Chinese political leaders have since repeatedly declared that the chief executive, who is to be elected by universal suffrage in 2017, "must conform to the standard of loving the country and loving Hong Kong". To that end, the government of Hong Kong, strongly backed by Beijing, reiterated that CE nominees be screened by a "broadly representative nominating committee", and that there would be no provision for civic nominations. The position was reaffirmed in a State Council white paper from June 2014.
On 16 January 2013, Benny Tai, Associate Professor at the University of Hong Kong, published an article in the Hong Kong Economic Journal in which he proposed an act of civil disobedience carried out in Central, the business and financial centre of Hong Kong, to put pressure on the government if its universal suffrage proposals proved to be "fake" democracy.
OCLP states that it would campaign for universal suffrage through dialogue, deliberation, civil referendum and civil disobedience (Occupy Central); it also demands that the government proposal should satisfy the "international standards" in relation to universal suffrage, i.e. equal number of vote, equal weight for each vote and no unreasonable restrictions on the right to stand for election, and the final proposal for the electoral reform to be decided by means of democratic process. OCLP said that any civil disobedience should be non-violent, although it cannot guarantee Occupy Central will be absolutely peaceful.
Three deliberation days were held on 9 June 2013, 9 March 2014, and 6 May 2014 respectively.
On 5 February 2014, the Democratic Party swore to take part in the Occupy Central campaign at Statue Square despite the risk of members being jailed. Some relatively radical democrats, mostly People Power disrupted the oath-taking ceremony. The 20-member group of pan-democratic lawmakers condemned the radicals at a joint press conference afterwards.
On the third deliberation day, the Occupy Central participants voted on electoral reform proposals put forward by different organisations for the civil referendum. A total of 2,508 votes were cast in the poll. All three selected proposals contained the concept of civil nomination, which the mainland China officials had said did not comply with the Basic Law. The proposal by student groups Scholarism and Hong Kong Federation of Students which allowed for public nomination, received 1,124 votes – 45 percent of the vote. People Power's proposal came in second with 685 votes, while the three-track proposal by the Alliance for True Democracy consisting of 27 pan-democracy lawmakers got 445 votes. The proposal from Hong Kong 2020 received 43 votes, while the civil recommendation proposed by 18 academics got 74 votes.
The three proposals chosen by the members of Occupy Central deliberation panel were considered to be more radical. The League of Social Democrats and People Power lawmakers, despite being part of the Alliance for True Democracy, urged their supporters to vote against the alliance's proposals. More moderate pan-democrats that avoided the notion of civic nomination were effectively squeezed out. Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah, who saw his moderate plan rejected in a poll believed "the Occupy Central movement has been hijacked by radicals". He believed that the poll results would make it harder to find a reform package Beijing would agree to and that wins over the five or so pan-democrats it will need for a two-thirds majority in LegCo. He also believed Occupy's plan to block streets in Central would be likely to go ahead. This, and the decision of People Power and the League of Social Democrats to go back on pledges to support the alliance's proposals, and of People Power to make its own proposal that included civil nomination, pointed to a split in pan democrat ranks.
|Date||20 – 29 June 2014|
|Voting system||Majority voting|
|For CE Election 2017, I support OCLP to submit this proposal to the Government:|
|If the government proposal cannot satisfy international standards allowing genuine choices by electors, LegCo should veto it, my stance is:|
OCLP commissioned the University of Hong Kong Public Opinion Programme (HKUPOP) to run a poll on three proposals – all of which involve allowing citizens to directly nominate candidates – to present to the Beijing government. It ran from 20 to 29 June 2014. A total of 792,808 people, equivalent to a fifth of the registered electorate, took part in the poll by either voting online or going to designated polling stations,. The two referendum questions were "For CE Election 2017, I support OCLP to submit this proposal to the Government: 1. Alliance for True Democracy Proposal, 2. People Power Proposal, 3. Students Proposal, or Abstention" and "If the government proposal cannot satisfy international standards allowing genuine choices by electors, LegCo should veto it, my stance is: LegCo should veto, LegCo should not veto, or abstain" respectively.
The proposal tabled by the Alliance for True Democracy, a group comprising 26 of the 27 pan-democratic lawmakers, won the unofficial "referendum" by securing 331,427 votes, or 42.1 per cent of the 787,767 valid ballots. A joint blueprint put forward by Scholarism and the Hong Kong Federation of Students came second with 302,567 votes (38.4 per cent), followed by a People Power's proposal, which clinched 81,588 votes (10.4 per cent). All three call for the public to be allowed to nominate candidates for the 2017 chief executive election, an idea repeatedly dismissed by Beijing as inconsistent with the Basic Law. However, the Alliance's "three track" proposal would allow the public, the nominating committee, as well as political parties, to put forward candidates. Under their plan, candidates can be nominated by 35,000 registered voters or by a party which secured at least five per cent of the vote in the last Legco election. It did not specify on the formation of the nominating committee, only stating that it should be "as democratic as it can be". The two other proposals would only allow the public and a nominating committee to put forward candidates. 691,972 voters (87.8 per cent) agreed that the Legislative Council should veto any reform proposal put forward by the government if it failed to meet international standards, compared with 7.5 per cent who disagreed.
The unofficial "referendum" infuriated Beijing and mainland officials and newspapers have called the poll "illegal" while many have condemned the Occupy Central, claiming it is motivated by foreign "anti-China forces" and will damage Hong Kong's standing as a financial capital. Zhang Junsheng, a former deputy director of Xinhua News Agency in Hong Kong, denounced the poll "meaningless". The state-run Global Times mocked the referendum as an "illegal farce" and "a joke". The territory's chief executive, Leung Chun-Ying, said: "Nobody should place Hong Kong people in confrontation with mainland Chinese citizens." Mainland censors meanwhile scrubbed social media sites clean of references to Occupy Central. The poll also prompted a flurry of vitriolic editorials, preparatory police exercises and sophisticated cyber-attacks where strategies evolved over time, according to CloudFlare, a firm that helped defend against the "unique and sophisticated" attack. Cloudfare said that the volume of traffic was an unprecedented 500Gbit/s and involved at least five botnets. Servers were bombarded with in excess of 250 million DNS requests per second, equivalent to the average volume of DNS requests for the entire Internet.
Before the referendum, the State Council issued a white paper claiming "comprehensive jurisdiction" over the territory. "The high degree of autonomy of the HKSAR [Hong Kong Special Administrative Region] is not full autonomy, nor a decentralised power," it said. "It is the power to run local affairs as authorised by the central leadership." Michael DeGolyer, director of the transition project at Hong Kong Baptist University, said: "It's very clear from surveys that the vast majority of the people voting in this referendum are doing it as a reaction to this white paper – particularly because they see it as threatening the rule of law ... That's not negotiating on the one country two systems principle, that's demolishing it."
The OCLP has pointed out the participants in Occupy Central could be guilty of "obstructing, inconveniencing or endangering a person or vehicle in a public place" under the Summary Offenses Ordinance. However, under the Public Order Ordinance, Occupy Central was considered as unlawful assembly, i.e., "when three or more people assemble... to cause any person reasonably to fear that the persons so assembled will commit a breach of the peace or will by such conduct provoke other persons to commit a breach of the peace, they are an unlawful assembly." The Hong Kong Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok stated that the government will "take robust action to uphold the rule of law and maintain safety and order."
OCLP has also published a "manual of disobedience" to inform protesters on what to do in the event that they are detained.
Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok warned that the radical elements of Occupy Central may cause serious disturbances like the violent incident during the meeting for funding the northeast New Territories new town in Legislative Council; he reminded the participants to consider their own personal safety and legal liability.
Commissioner of Police Andy Tsang Wai-hung said that any attempt to block major thoroughfares in Central will not be tolerated and warned people to think twice about joining the Occupy Central protest, adding "any collective act to hold up traffic unlawfully" would not be tolerated.
Wang Guangya, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, when asked if he believed the Occupy Central plan was beneficial to the city, said "I think Hong Kong compatriots don't want to see Hong Kong being messed up. Hong Kong needs development."
Qiao Xiaoyang, chairman of the National People's Congress Law Committee, was quoted as accusing the "opposition camp" of "fuelling" the Occupy Central plan. Qiao said the plan was only "partly truthful", "complex" and a "risk-everything" proposition.
In October 2013 the Communist Party-controlled Global Times objected to Occupy organizers meeting with Democratic Progressive Party figures such as Shih Ming-teh in Taiwan, saying that the DPP, the main opposition party to Taiwan's governing KMT, was "pro-independence." In a piece titled "HK opposition at risk of becoming enemy of the State," Occupy organizers were warned that "collaborating with the pro-independence forces in Taiwan will put Hong Kong's future at the risk of violence," and advised that "if they collaborated... massive chaos might be created, which will compel the central government to impose tough measures to maintain Hong Kong's stability." A few days later the paper said that Occupy Central was a "potentially violent concept" and asked "Why are Benny Tai Yiu-ting, who initiated the Occupy Central campaign and his supporters so bold as to challenge the central government with a bloody proposal over the issue of chief executive election procedures?"
The Occupy Central campaign has been censored in mainland China news media. On nationalist newspaper, Global Times, described Occupy Central as an "illicit campaign [which would] jeopardise the global image of Hong Kong [and] erode the authority of the rule of law". The demonstrators were described as "radical opposition forces" and a small minority of extremists who are not capable of mobilising the mass towards revolution. In all state mouthpieces, the general opinion in editorials and commentary trivialised the scale, significance and the likelihood of Occupy Central's success, reassurance of the Communist party's complete power over Hong Kong's affairs and painting a picture of majority of Hong Kong people welcome the 2017 political framework.
On Sunday 28 September, the state-controlled news channel Dragon TV broadcast the images of few thousand people jubilantly waving Chinese flags, participating in a celebration of the upcoming 65th anniversary of China National Day in Tamar Park whilst the coverage on student protest was absent. Interviewees overwhelmingly welcomed China's framework and decision for Hong Kong's 2017 election.
On 28 September, photo-sharing app Instagram was blocked in Mainland China after photographs and videos of the use of tear gas went viral online. Phrases like "Tear Gas", "Hong Kong Students" and "Occupy Central" are censored on the largest search engine in China – Baidu, Sina Weibo (China Twitter). Experts reported that he received "hundreds of complaints from people on Twitter saying their Weibo accounts had been either blocked or deleted, most because they talked about the Hong Kong issue." Mobile messaging service providers KakaoTalk also reported disruptions of their service, which protesters circumvented via the peer-to-peer app FireChat.
Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki said he saw the ideas as "the last resort" to pressure Beijing and the SAR administration to introduce universal suffrage. "If Beijing breaks its promise of universal suffrage," he added, "we will have no option but to launch such a civil disobedience movement."
Albert Ho Chun-yan of Democratic Party claimed he would resign from his legislator post to grant Hong Kong people the opportunity to vote in a de facto referendum to pave way for the Occupy Central movement, just as the pan-democrats launched the by-election in 2010 for universal suffrage in 2012.[unreliable source?]
Cheung Kwok-kwan, vice-chairman of the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, questioned whether Hong Kong could "afford the negative impact of people staging a rally to occupy and even paralyze Central for a universal suffrage model". He noted that it was "a mainstream idea" in the SAR not to resort to radical means to fight for democracy. Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, a National People's Congress Standing Committee member, feared the occupation would adversely affect Hong Kong's image. National People's Congress Deputy and Executive Councilor Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fan urged the opposition camp to show respect for each other through a rational and pragmatic debate over the issue. She added that there was no need to resort to "extreme action" and claimed that it was not too late to begin consultations next year.
In mid-July, after the civic referendum, the Alliance for Peace and Democracy (APD) initiated a petition against the occupation from 18 July to 17 August. There were criticisms that no identity checks were carried out and that there were no steps to prevent numerous multiple signatories. According to the Wall Street Journal and South China Morning Post, employees faced pressure to sign petition forms that were being circulated by department heads in some companies, including Town Gas, a major public utility. The APD claimed in excess of a million signatures were obtained. The organisers said they obtained signatures from many supporters including children, secondary school and university students, the elderly, office staff, celebrities and maids. Official endorsements include chief executive CY Leung and other top Hong Kong officials. The APD organised a "march for peace" on 17 August intended to undermine the Occupy movement. It was attended by tens of thousands of marchers. There were widespread claims that organisations had paid people to attend the rally or had given other inducements; the media reported pro-establishment organisations (namely the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions) had put on cross-border transport to bring in marchers and that some 20,000 people may have been bussed in from across the border. An editorial in The Standard noted "it's obvious that Beijing spared no effort in maximizing the turnout... Beijing has demonstrated its ability to swiftly mobilize the masses over a relatively short period".
Business and professional groups
Eight major local business groups signed a statement condemning the Occupy Central movement and its founders meeting with Taiwanese independence activists in October 2013. Signatories included Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Hong Kong Industries, Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong and Real Estate Developers Association of Hong Kong. The Law Society of Hong Kong quickly followed.
In June 2014, Executives and brokers including tycoons Li Ka-shing and Peter Woo, and also the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce and the Hong Kong Bahrain Business Association, the Canadian, Indian and Italian chambers of commerce in Hong Kong together published an advertisement on newspapers that said the demonstrations may "cripple" businesses.
In late June 2014, Hong Kong's four biggest accounting firms issued a statement condemning the Occupy Central movement arguing that the blockade could have an "adverse and far-reaching impact" on the local legal system, social order and economic development. Employees of the firms who called themselves a "group of Big Four employees who love Hong Kong" took out an advertisement saying their employers' statement "does not represent our stance."
On 29 September 2014, Hong Kong Bar Association released a press statement, strongly denouncing “the excessive and disproportionate use of force by the Hong Kong Police” and the misjudgement of Police’s escalated use of force antagonised and frustrated public feelings.
Declaring that despite the disagreement over political views and allegedly criminal offences, the “repeated, systematic, indiscriminate and excessive use of CS gas” on the unarmed, peaceful and well-conducted demonstrators can not be justified even in names of maintaining public order or prevention of public disorder, such use of force does not abide by law .
Leo F. Goodstadt, who served as adviser to Chris Patten, the last British-appointed governor of Hong Kong, and chief adviser for the Central Policy Unit of the colonial government, said that it would be normal for protesters to "paralyze Central" because "it is part of their right to protest" and Hong Kong residents already possessed the right to criticise the government through protests since the colonial era. In response to concerns that the Occupy Central campaign would hurt Hong Kong's status as an international financial center, Goodstadt cited the frequent mass protests in New York and London, two leading international financial centres, as having a minimal effect on the business environment there.
Cardinal Joseph Zen has given his conditional support to the campaign, but stated that he would not participate in the movement for an indefinite period. The incumbent bishop Cardinal John Tong Hon expressed that he did not encourage followers to join the movement, suggesting that both parties should debate universal suffrage through dialogue.
Reverend Ng Chung-man of the Evangelical Free Church of China publicly denounced the Occupy Central plan in his church's newsletter. Ng wrote that while "some Christians are advocating...occupying Central to force the governments to give in to their demands...civil disobedience is acceptable biblically only...when people's rights to religion and to live are under threat". He exhorted believers to pray for those in authority, in an act of "active subordination" to "relatively just governments".
On 27 September, human rights watchdog Amnesty International swiftly responded to the use of pepper spray in dispersing the peaceful demonstrators on the night before, declaring Hong Kong Police's immediate resolve to use violence and riot police dispersing the crowds violated Hong Kong citizens' freedom of speech and freedom of assembly of demonstration as constituted in Article 27 of Hong Kong Basic Law, which bound by International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Amnesty International urged the authorities to fulfil their obligation abide by International and domestic law, to release people who had been detained solely on exercising their human rights, and to ensure a peaceful environment for demonstrators.
On 26 September 2014, after the class boycott campaign, students led by the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) and Scholarism stormed the Civic Square, triggering a mass of crowd to protest outside the Central Government Offices in Admiralty. On 28 September 2014 at 1.40am, Benny Tai announced the official start of the Occupy Central with Love and Peace civil disobedience campaign on the stage of the student protests. He designated the areas around the government headquarters as the occupation site in place of Central.
On Sunday night, 28 September 2014, the scenes in Central and Admiralty became more dramatic, as the police employed tear gas, pepper spray, and batons in their attempts to disperse the protesters. The use of tear gas was a significant move in Hong Kong, as it had not been used in the SAR since 2005. The excessive use of violence in dispersion of demonstrators by Hong Kong Police antagonised and frustrated general public feelings. This did not deter the crowds, as thousands more began to occupy other major thoroughfares of Hong Kong namely Mong Kok and Causeway Bay. On Monday, the government withdrew the riot police, leaving the three regions occupied by protesters, and there were massive traffic disruptions as buses and vehicles were diverted.
The protests were initially organised and promoted by Occupy Central with Love and Peace, HKFS and Scholarism, but the unprecedented scale of demonstrators and multiple congregation locations soon changed the Occupy Central movement into a non-centralised, self-managed horizontal structure, known as the Umbrella Movement. Instead of playing the leading role, volunteers of OCLP provided support, such as its legal support team, for the movement. As the occupation turned one month old, Chan Kin-man and Benny Tai resumed their teaching duties at universities and OCLP handed over the command of its medic, marshal and supplies teams to the student groups.
On 3 December, the Occupy Central trio, along with 62 others including Democratic Party lawmaker Wu Chi-wai and Cardinal Joseph Zen, Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong, turned themselves into the police, admitting taking part in an unauthorised assembly. However, they were set free without being arrested or charged. According to the trio, they did so in order to bear legal responsibilities and uphold the rule of law, as well as to signify their intention of love and peace. They also urged occupiers to leave for their safety, claiming they feared the government's use of the police to maintain its authority. After the retreat from the occupation sites, they planned to transform their direction to community work and education. OCLP was disbanded by the founders when they surrendered to the police in December 2014.
- 16 January 2013 – Benny Tai Yiu-ting writes an article 公民抗命的最大殺傷力武器 (Civil disobedience's deadliest weapon) in Hong Kong Economic Journal suggesting an occupation of Central.
- 24 March 2013 – Qiao Xiaoyang, chairman of the Law Committee under the National People's Congress Standing Committee(NPCSC) of PRC, states that chief executive candidates must be persons who "love the country and love Hong Kong" and who do not insist on confronting the central government.
- 27 March 2013 – "Occupy Central with Love and Peace" (OCLP) is formed as organisers of the "Occupy Central" movement, Benny Tai, Reverend Chu Yiu-ming and Chan Kin-man officially announce at a news conference that they will start promoting the protest in 2014 if the government's proposals for universal suffrage fail to meet international standards.
- 9 June 2013 – First Deliberation Day.
- 9 March 2014 – Second Deliberation Day
- 6 May 2014 – Third Deliberation Day
- 20 to 29 June 2014 – Civil referendum. The civil referendum ends with 787,767 valid e-votes, or about 22% of Hong Kong's registered voters.
- 1 July 2014 – After the annual 1 July march, Occupy Central rehearsal results in over 500 arrests.
- 31 August 2014 - NPCSC announces its decision for Hong Kong's electoral systems in 2017. OCLP plans civil disobedience protests.
- 22 to 26 September 2014 – Students' strike.
- 27 September 2014 – Protests outside Central Government Complex.
- 28 September 2014
- 29 September 2014 – Riot police have retreated from various areas.
- 28 October 2014 – Chan Kin-man and Benny Tai returned to their teaching duties.
- 25 November 2014 - The Mong Kok protest site was cleared by the police after heavy clashes with the protesters.
- 3 December 2014 – The Occupy Trio surrendered to the police without being arrested.
- 8 December 2014 – The court granted an injunction to a bus company to remove the blockades in Admiralty.
- 12 December 2014 – The occupied site in Admiralty is cleared without resistance.
- 15 December 2014 – The last occupied zone in Causeway Bay was cleared peacefully. Protesters also leave the Legislative Council demonstration area. Police announce that 955 people have been arrested throughout the movement, and 75 turned themselves in. The occupation movement ends.
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