Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement appears to fracturing, days before a court decision that is expected to usher in the clearing of the main site where protesters have been camped out for months.
The movement has never been entirely cohesive, but after the violent clashes that started Nov. 30, there are now three separate factions pursuing three very different agendas, as well as a whole bunch of demonstrators who haven’t yet declared their allegiances. Here’s the breakdown:
The surrendered. The three leaders of Occupy Central with Love and Peace, Hong Kong’s long-time pro-democracy group, said Dec. 2 they plan to surrender Dec. 3 to Hong Kong police, before the “out of control” cops hurt any one else, and take the rap for the entire civil disobedience movement. “Surrendering is not an act of cowardice, it is the courage to act on a promise,” founder Benny Tai said. “To surrender is not to fail, it is a silent denunciation of a heartless government.” The group urged students to retreat.
The hunger strikers. Joshua Wong, leader of the student group Scholarism, and two other students said late on Dec. 1 that they would fast until Hong Kong’s chief executive CY Leung agrees to restart a discussion on democratic reforms. That doesn’t seem likely. Asked about their demands, Leung said today he hoped students would look after their health as the weather cools.
The fighters. On the evening of Dec. 1, after Hong Kong’s police forcefully beat back protesters, a small group gathered in Admiralty to discuss the use of what they called “minimum force.” Jason Chow, a 20-year-old student, told Quartz the recent police violence has inspired the group to “fight valiantly,” rather than being “a lamb to the slaughter.” When confronted again by police, the group plans to use defensive armor, throw objects, and even wrestle away cops’ batons from them if they start beating people, he said.