HONG KONG (TheBlaze/AP) — Leaders of a Hong Kong pro-democracy movement early Sunday kicked off a long-threatened mass civil disobedience protest to challenge Beijing over its recent decision to rule out genuine democratic reforms for the former British colony.
Organizers of "Occupy Central with Love and Peace" said that an "occupation" of the streets outside government headquarters has officially begun.
Protestors tie up barricades during a demonstration outside headquarters of the Legislative Counsel on September 28, 2014, in Hong Kong. (Image source: AFP/Xaume Olleros/Getty Images)
The movement had originally planned a mass sit-in to paralyze the Asian financial hub's central business district on Wednesday, but organizers made the surprise move in an apparent bid to harness momentum from a student-led demonstration outside the government complex that has attracted thousands of supporters over two nights.
Thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators gather at Hong Kong's government headquarters Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014, braced for a second night of confrontations with authorities after police arrested dozens during a chaotic protest against Beijing's refusal to allow genuine democratic reforms in the semiautonomous city. (Image source: AP/Apple Daily)
Pro-democracy supporters are demanding that China's Communist leaders allow fully democratic elections in 2017.
China, which took control of the former British colony in 1997, has promised that Hong Kong's top leader can be chosen through universal suffrage. But tensions over the Asian financial hub's political future boiled over after China's legislature last month ruled out letting the public nominate candidates, instead insisting they be screened by a committee of Beijing loyalists similar to the one that currently picks the city's leader.
The organizers of the non-violent protest movement said they want Beijing to abandon its decision and the Hong Kong government to resume political reform consultations.
Protesters wearing masks and goggles gather outside government headquarters in Hong Kong, Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. (Image source: AP/Vincent Yu)
"The courage of the students and members of the public in their spontaneous decision to stay has touched many Hong Kong people," the group said in a statement. "Yet, the government has remained unmoved. As the wheel of time has reached this point, we have decided to arise and act."