POLICE in Hong Kong have fired teargas at protestors as pro-democracy demonstrations extend into a third day.
The teargas was fired to disperse crowds which had congregated in front of government buildings demanding that the next general elections be democratic.
Hong Kong’s ‘civic square’ has become the focal point of protests in the city which have been ongoing since Friday night (September 26), when thousands of people descended on the area in what has developed from pro-democracy protests into general civil disobedience.
Demonstrators were at first pushed back by riot police, but later were able to gain ground again, forcing their way back into the area. Many have denounced the police force’s treatment of the protestors as amounting to nothing more than ‘police brutality’ against what has been a largely peaceful protest.
CY Leung, Hong Kong’s unpopular chief executive, has urged citizens not to participate in the ‘Occupy Central’ protest movement, which has effectively brought the city’s financial hub to a standstill.
The movement is protesting against China’s planned electoral reforms in Hong Kong, and organizers hope to disrupt daily activity in the financial district by sitting in the streets and blocking roads and traffic.
In a statement, Occupy Central said that the chief executive’s refusal to engage in dialogue with the protestors was inflaming the situation.
Occupy Central said: “[Occupy Central] believes this has already become a spontaneous movement of the Hong Kong people that does not come under any organization.
“However, we will continue to fight alongside the people to strive for democracy and we fully support the current spontaneous and non-violent occupy actions.”
On August 31, authorities in Beijing announced their decision not to allow open elections when Hong Kong next goes to the polls in 2017.
According to official estimates, 41 people – including police officers – have been injured, and 78 arrested since the start of the demonstrations on Friday, September 26.