No arrests have been made after the three founding members of Hong Kong Occupy Central gave themselves up to police. One of the men said that they may be arrested later and "even prosecuted for more serious offenses."
The three founding members of Hong Kong's Occupy Central movement surrendered to police on Wednesday for their role in democracy protests, which the government regards as illegal.
The men, Benny Tai, Chan Kin-man and Reverend Chu Yiu-ming , entered the police station to the taunts of pro-Beijing groups shouting "Arrest them!" Inside, however, the trio filled out paperwork before leaving without facing any charges, despite admitting to "participating in unauthorized assembly".
"We have not been arrested so we are allowed to leave with no restriction on our liberty," said Tai. "I don't think the matter will be resolved on this occasion, later we may be arrested, even prosecuted for more serious offences. I think we still have to wait and see," he added.
The Occupy members were also joined by outspoken 82-year-old Cardinal Joseph Zen, who also gave himself up. Around 40 supporters also queued up at booths set up by Occupy to turn themselves in, filling out forms with their personal details and admitting they had broken the law.
On Tuesday the three men had called on protesters to retreatfollowing violent clashes with police on Sunday and Monday. Student protest leader Joshua Wong, who is currently on hunger strike, rejected the call from the Occupy founders and on Wednesday read out a letter addressed to Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
"Please don't ask us to avoid the pain of a hunger strike. Please first ease the agony of suppression and the lack of freedom [suffered] by Hong Kong people," the letter said. "The government can't afford to pay the costly price of losing a generation of young people."
Two months after protests over Beijing's plans to screen candidates for Hong Kong's 2017 election began, the movement appears to have lost it's momentum as numbers have waned. The Chinese government has said it will extend direct elections to Hong Kong's legislative body to choose the territory's chief executive, but it has stood by its plans to screen candidates, despite months of protest.
At their peak, the protests drew more than 100,000 to the streets of Hong Kong.
ksb/gb (Reuters, AFP)