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Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters have returned to the streets for their first big rally since mass protests last year.
A large police presence was in force to deter protesters from reoccupying key areas of Hong Kong.
Protesters were not reported to be planning a repeat of the occupations that shut down parts of the city.
Last year’s Occupy demonstrations called for fully democratic elections for the territory’s chief executive.
China has promised the semi-autonomous territory direct elections in 2017, but ruled that candidates had to be vetted by Beijing.
Initial estimates suggested around 3,000 protesters marched through the city’s upmarket shopping and financial districts, watched by about 2,000 police officers.
Many demonstrators carried yellow umbrellas – the symbol of the political campaign.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators had taken to the streets in September last year, demanding political change.
There were violent clashes with police, and the final protest camp was dismantled in December.
One organizer of the latest march, Daisy Chan, told the AFP news agency it would show that last year’s demonstrations were a watershed for Hong Kong.
Before the march police had been wary of reports that there were no plans for protesters to reoccupy public areas, issuing a statement saying: “It is believed that those supporting the illegal occupation are likely to seize the opportunity to reoccupy roads which have been now reopened to traffic.”
Hong Kong pro-democracy activists have clashed with police near the government offices, in some of the worst unrest in two months of protests.
Protesters fought police armed with pepper spray, batons and water hoses on roads around the camp in Admiralty.
Police say 40 people have been arrested and a number of officers were injured.
The protesters want the people of Hong Kong to be allowed to choose their leaders in the 2017 elections without interference from Beijing.
The Chinese government has said it will allow universal suffrage, but will screen candidates for the chief executive post in advance.
Last week police and court bailiffs removed one of the major protest camps in the Mong Kok commercial district.
The protesters had public support at the beginning, but that is now ebbing as many Hong Kong residents believe the protests are causing too much disruption.
The unrest flared late on November 30, after student protest leaders called on supporters to converge on the offices of Chief Executive CY Leung on Lung Wo Road.
The road is a short distance away from Connaught Road in Admiralty, the major road protesters have been occupying for two months.
Protesters, many wearing hard hats and carrying umbrellas – the symbol of their movement – moved into the area, throwing bottles, helmets and umbrellas towards police.
Police ordered them to retreat, then charged protesters, eventually forcing them out of the area. Police sprayed water to disperse protesters, in addition to batons and pepper spray.
On December 1, government offices were shut and staff were told to stay home. But the roads outside the government site were clear of protesters and open for traffic.
By afternoon government employees were able to go back to work.
The atmosphere remains tense at Connaught Road where hundreds of protesters are still occupying the area amid a police presence.
Hong Kong’s security secretary, Lai Tung-kwow, has blamed students for escalating violent behavior, and defended the use of force by police.
“The police have to take resolute actions, they have no choice … it is their duty to restore law and order,” Lai Tung-kwow told reporters at a press conference on December 1.
Last week more than 100 people – including some key protest leaders – were arrested as the Mong Kok camp, across the harbor from Admiralty, was dismantled.
The latest clashes come after China said it would not allow a UK parliamentary committee to enter Hong Kong as part of an inquiry into British relations with its former colony.
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Seven police officers have been arrested in Hong Kong in connection with the beating of pro-democracy protester Ken Tsang.
A police statement said the policemen, who had already been suspended, were detained on suspicion of “assault resulting in grievous body harm”.
The incident took place on October 15 amid clashes while police cleared an underpass by the Admiralty camp.
Civic Party protester Ken Tsang was filmed being led away in handcuffs and beaten for several minutes.
Local TV network TVB later aired footage of his assault, and Ken Tsang’s lawyer said that the beatings had continued after he was taken to a police station.
The authorities immediately moved to suspend the officers and launched an investigation shortly after the clip was aired.
On November 26, a police spokesman said they had not delayed investigations into the case, and that Ken Tsang had promised to show up to identify his assailants, but failed to do so.
The spokesman called on Ken Tsang to “assist the police in investigations as soon as possible”.
The police also rejected previous criticism of their handling of the case, saying that their investigations had consistently followed the procedures for complaints against police officers.
“If any other officer is suspected of illegal behavior, the police will investigate impartially and not show favoritism,” said the spokesman.
Police used pepper spray and batons on October 15 to remove protesters from Lung Wo Road, arresting 45 people who had resisted the action.
Since then the authorities have attempted to clear parts of the three protest sites in Hong Kong, after the high court granted injunctions to several groups.
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Hong Kong police clashed with a small group of protesters who tried to break into parliament early on November 19.
Protesters used metal barricades to break down a side door at the Legislative Council building (LegCo).
The incident happened hours after bailiffs and police peacefully cleared a section of the main protest camp.
Protesters calling for full democracy have occupied three key sites in Hong Kong for nearly eight weeks.
Dozens of young protesters, some wearing masks, tried smashing in the door shortly after 01:00 AM. Some reportedly managed to enter the building.
Riot police warned protesters to stay back, using red flags, and later used pepper spray to push them back.
There were repeated attempts by protesters to enter the building throughout the night, but they appeared to retreat by daylight.
Democratic lawmaker Fernando Cheung, who was among a group of people who tried to stop the protesters, told Reuters that it was “a very, very isolated incident” as the movement had been peaceful so far.
Student leader Lester Shum, from the Hong Kong Federation of Students, told AFP: “It’s not something we like to see… We call on occupiers to stick firm to peaceful and non-violent principles and be a responsible participant of the umbrella movement.”
The police said they arrested four people, while three officers were injured.
Some protesters said that they attempted the break-in because they were angry about the earlier clearance of part of the main protest site at Admiralty.
Tuesday’s clearance in front of Citic Tower came after the building’s owners were granted an injunction by the high court.
An injunction has also been granted for the clearance of roads at the Mong Kok protest site. The South China Morning Post says hundreds of police are on standby to clear that site as early as Thursday. A third protest site remains at Causeway Bay.
The protesters have been on the streets since early October to demonstrate against a decision by China to screen candidates for Hong Kong’s 2017 leadership election. Numbers were originally in the tens of thousands but have fallen to a few hundred.
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Hong Kong authorities have cleared part of a pro-democracy protest camp in the Admiralty district.
The bailiffs, backed by police, dismantled barricades outside Citic Tower after the building’s owners complained about the disruption and were granted a high court injunction.
The student protesters did not resist the clearance, and many helped to remove tents and fences.
The high court has also authorized the clearance of the Mong Kok site.
A third protest camp remains at Causeway Bay.
The activists have been on the streets since early October to protest against a decision by China to screen candidates for Hong Kong’s 2017 leadership election. Numbers were originally in the tens of thousands but have fallen to a few hundred.
Hong Kong and the Beijing government say the protests are illegal, and there is growing public frustration with the disruption to traffic and business.
The high court has also granted an injunction to taxi and minibus associations to clear the roads in Mong Kok, where on November 18 protesters had also begun packing up.
More requests have been lodged by bus companies to clear other roads affected by the protest sites.
Police operations to clear and contain the camps in recent weeks have sometimes led to clashes.
An attempt to clear an underpass near Admiralty led to accusations that police had used excessive violence, after a video emerged of officers apparently beating a protester.
At the weekend, a group of student leaders were prevented from travelling to Beijing, where they had hoped to seek an audience with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, after their travel permits were declared invalid.
Hong Kong pro-democracy protest leaders have been stopped from boarding a plane to Beijing.
The three had hoped to meet China’s leaders as part of their push for greater democracy, but were told their travel permits were invalid.
Protesters have been camped out on the streets of the territory since late September.
They want Beijing to allow more candidates to stand in the territory’s next leadership election in 2017.
They were mobbed at the airport by fellow democracy activists, who unfurled yellow umbrellas – a symbol of Hong Kong’s democracy movement.
They were led by Alex Chow, who heads the Hong Kong Federation of Students.
An editorial in China’s state-run Global Times, written before the activists were stopped at the airport, said the group would have had little chance of meeting Chinese leaders.
Hong Kong’s Occupy Central movement had “failed”, the editorial concluded.
Hong Kong protesters have clashed with police in a battle for territory in the district of Mong Kok.
Some reports suggested police charged after the demonstrators had breached their barriers, sparking scuffles that caused minor injuries on both sides.
Protesters on social media accused the police of an unprovoked attack.
Leaders on both sides have called for calm, and confirmed that talks between protest leaders and the government delegates will take place on October 21.
The protesters, many of them youths and students, are angry at China’s rulers for limiting their choice of leader in the next election in 2017.
They accuse Hong Kong’s current leader, CY Leung, of failing to stand up to the Chinese Communist Party.
Hong Kong protesters have clashed with police in a battle for territory in the district of Mong Kok (photo Reuters)
Protests erupted last month and have been going on intermittently around government buildings and the business district on Hong Kong island, and in Mong Kok, a residential and shopping area in Kowloon.
On October 17, police had all but cleared the Mong Kok site and protesters’ numbers had substantially dwindled elsewhere.
Clashes resumed later as protesters launched a sustained effort to reoccupy a busy road junction in Mong Kok.
About 9,000 protesters pushed police back, with 26 people arrested.
At about midnight on October 18, police charged protesters, beating them with batons and deploying pepper spray.
A stand-off resumed shortly afterwards with neither side having gained any ground.
Talks between the two sides were announced earlier.
Carrie Lam, CY Leung’s deputy, said both sides would send five representatives to the negotiations, which will be broadcast live on television.
The talks will last about two hours, and be focused on constitutional reform, Carrie Lam said.
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Hong Kong protesters have retaken streets in the Mong Kok district cleared by the authorities just a few hours earlier.
Some 9,000 protesters pushed back riot police, managing to retake territory south of a major intersection.
They have been occupying parts of the city for weeks, angered at China’s curbs on who can stand in Hong Kong’s next leadership election in 2017.
Police made 26 arrests for assault and other offenses on Friday evening.
Fifteen police officers were injured in the clashes, police said, while several protesters were seen being knocked to the ground during the latest scuffles, AP news agency reports.
Protest group Occupy Central issued a statement saying that the clearance operations ordered by the government had “triggered a new wave of occupations and worsened relations between police and citizens”.
The Mong Kok camp in Kowloon is an offshoot of the original protest site around government offices in Admiralty on Hong Kong Island.
Hong Kong protesters have retaken streets in the Mong Kok district cleared by the authorities just a few hours earlier
Protesters and police are also congregating at Admiralty, although there are no reports of clashes.
Earlier on Friday, Alex Chow from the Federation of Students said both his group and the government had agreed to meet on October 21, in talks that would be broadcast live on radio, the South China Morning Post reported.
Hong Kong leader CY Leung said on October 16 that the government was ready for talks, but China would not retract its decision to vet candidates for the 2017 elections.
The last time talks were scheduled they were cancelled by Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, who said it was impossible to have constructive dialogue while the occupation of city streets continued.
Protester numbers have dropped off since the start of the month, when tens of thousands were on the streets. But tensions escalated this week, with violent clashes as police cleared an underpass on Lung Wo Road near the chief executive’s offices.
A video showing plainclothes police officers beating an unarmed protester, who is a member of the pro-democracy Civic Party, also sparked outrage.
Police said seven officers had been suspended pending an investigation.
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Hong Kong police is investigating reports that officers used excessive force against pro-democracy protesters.
Local TV showed images of officers apparently beating a handcuffed protester on October 15 in some of the worst clashes since the protests began.
Hong Kong’s security chief said the officers had been “temporarily removed from their current duties”.
The incident occurred as police cleared an underpass near government buildings.
The police advance came when protesters blockaded the underpass after being cleared out of other areas of the city on October 14.
Overnight police used pepper spray and batons to remove protesters from Lung Wo Road which they said earlier had to be cleared as it was a major thoroughfare. They also arrested 45 people for “unlawful assembly”.
Local TV network TVB aired footage that appeared to show a group of plainclothes policeman dragging a handcuffed and unarmed protester and placing him on the ground.
Hong Kong police is investigating reports that officers used excessive force against pro-democracy protesters
They then assault him, kicking him repeatedly.
The man was named as Ken Tsang, a social worker and member of the opposition Civic Party. He was later taken to hospital.
Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said there was “concern” over a video clip “showing police officers who used inappropriate force against an arrested person”.
He said the officers seen on the video would be removed from their current duties and that an investigation would be carried out.
The protesters are now in their third week of occupying key parts of the city in a bid to put pressure on China and Hong Kong’s authorities to answer their calls for political reform.
Thousands of people took to the streets at the beginning of the demonstrations but the numbers have dwindled in recent days.
They are demanding fully free elections in the next vote for the territory’s leader. China, which has control over Hong Kong, says residents can vote – but it will vet which candidates are eligible to stand.
The clashes came on the third day of operations that police say are necessary to ease traffic disruption, but which they insist are not aimed at clearing the protesters.
Tsui Wai-Hung, a police spokesman, said none of the 37 men and eight women who were arrested had been hurt. Four police officers were said to have been injured.
Joshua Wong, a prominent student leader, told AFP news agency that trust between police and the activists was at a low point.
“The proper action police should take is to bring the protester to the police car, not to take him away and then punch and kick him for four minutes,” he said.
On October 15, China’s The People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s official newspaper, said the protests were “doomed to fail” in a front-page editorial.
“Numerous facts and history tell us that if people start radical and illegal acts and there is submission to political blackmail, it will only result in more and more illegal activities and exacerbate instability and chaos,” the paper said.
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Hong Kong protesters have accepted an offer of talks with the government after a week of unrest.
Chief Executive CY Leung Leung offered the talks with his deputy late on Thursday, October 2, but rejected calls to resign.
The protesters, angry at China’s plan to vet election candidates, have been occupying parts of the city since the weekend, though numbers have fallen.
Beijing has thrown its full support behind CY Leung, calling the protests illegal and “doomed to fail”.
On Friday, October 3, Hong Kong temporarily closed government offices in the main protest-hit area, saying staff should work from home because roads were blocked.
Though the protests were significantly smaller on Friday, some groups remained on the streets. In a sign of tensions, there were some scuffles as police tried to keep protesters back from the buildings.
Scuffles also broke out in the Mong Kok district between protesters and residents who oppose the demonstrations. Similar disturbances were reported from the Causeway Bay area.
Police were sent to Mong Kok where pro-Beijing groups had reportedly tried to remove barriers and tents.
At a news conference, the police have heavily criticized the protesters for obstructing traffic and blocking supplies reaching the government offices.
“It is unreasonable, unnecessary and severely affecting emergency services and the life of the public,” police spokesman Hui Chun-tak said.
Hong Kong protesters have accepted an offer of talks with the government after a week of unrest
Hui Chun-tak urged protesters to leave the area outside the government buildings in an orderly fashion, but stressed the police would remain impartial and “exercise the greatest tolerance”.
On the issue of talks, the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) said it would have a public meeting with Chief Administration Secretary Carrie Lam, but insisted that CY Leung should step down, saying he had “lost his integrity”.
The Occupy Central movement issued a statement saying it hoped “the talks can provide a turning point in the current political stalemate”. It also called for CY Leung’s resignation.
Benny Tai, co-founder of Occupy Central movement, also visited students outside government offices – who have reportedly attempted to block supplies from reaching the police – and urged them to show understanding.
“Everyone loves Hong Kong and we all hope to have a peaceful and just society, and on this journey we must show inclusivity,” he said, according to Apple Daily.
The students had threatened to escalate their protests and occupy government buildings if CY Leung did not resign by Thursday night.
Hours before the deadline, he said in a news briefing: “I will not resign because I have to continue with the work for elections.”
He warned that any attempts to occupy buildings would lead to “serious consequences”.
At the heart of the row is how Hong Kong elects its next leader. In August, Beijing ruled that while Hong Kong residents would have a vote, their choice of candidates would be restricted by a committee.
The protesters say this falls short of the free elections they are seeking.
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Hong Kong’s leader CY Leung says he will not step down, amid calls from pro-democracy protesters for him to resign.
CY Leung said his government was willing to hold talks with the protesters.
The protesters are angry at China’s plan to vet candidates for elections in 2017, and say they want full democracy.
They have surrounded two key government buildings in the territory, but CY Leung warned them that they were breaking the law.
At a news conference shortly before the protesters’ midnight deadline for his resignation, CY Leung warned that attempts to move on or occupy government buildings would have “very serious consequences”.
Hong Kong’s leader CY Leung says he will not step down, amid calls from pro-democracy protesters for him to resign
He said the territory’s top civil servant, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, would open a dialogue with student leaders as soon as possible.
“Tonight, the Hong Kong Federation of Students issued an open letter asking for a meeting with the chief secretary, representing the Hong Kong government, to discuss one item – and this is the constitutional development of Hong Kong,” CY Leung told reporters.
“We have studied the letter in detail, and I’m now appointing the chief secretary to represent the Hong Kong government to meet with the representatives of the Hong Kong Federation of Students to discuss constitutional development matters.”
Hong Kong’s chief executive added: “I will not resign because I have to continue with the work for elections.”
The protesters have massed outside the Office of the Chief Executive and the Central Government Complex.
Police had earlier warned protesters not to try to breach the police cordon protecting the buildings.
Police spokesman Steve Hui told reporters: “The police will not stand by and watch. We will decisively uphold the law.”
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Hong Kong protesters are preparing for huge pro-democracy rallies on the National Day as leader CY Leung has urged them to back electoral reforms set out by Beijing.
Speaking early on the National Day holiday, CY Leung said Hong Kong should work with Beijing to achieve progress.
The protesters want Beijing to withdraw plans to vet candidates for the next Hong Kong leadership election in 2017.
Activists say they expect the biggest demonstrations yet on the streets to coincide with the holiday.
By midday, protesters were starting to fill up the main protests site in the Central business district, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok. A fourth protest site has also spread to Canton Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, several roads south of Mong Kok.
CY Leung, Hong Kong’s chief executive, has rejected campaigners’ calls for him to stand down. Chinese President Xi Jinping has reaffirmed Beijing’s control over the territory.
A rumbling protest campaign ballooned into mass street demonstrations at the weekend.
Police responded initially with tear gas and pepper spray, but riot police later withdrew and since early on Monday the situation has remained calm.
The protesters want Beijing to withdraw plans to vet candidates for the next Hong Kong leadership election in 2017 (photo Reuters)
Crowds swelled again on Tuesday night and the demonstrators – who include student groups, supporters of the Occupy Central movement and others angered by the police response – say they are confident of greater numbers on Wednesday, October 1.
So far there are no signs of concessions from Beijing.
On September 30, President Xi Jinping told Communist Party leaders that his government would “steadfastly safeguard the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and Macau”.
The protests are seen as a direct challenge to Beijing’s grip on the territory’s politics. Analysts say leaders are worried that calls for democracy could spread to mainland cities.
News of the protests is being heavily censored in mainland China. Media have blamed “radical opposition forces” for stirring up trouble.
Meanwhile the US restated its position on the protests, saying that a genuine choice of candidates in the election would enhance the legitimacy of the chief executive.
On September 30, state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that Secretary of State John Kerry would discuss the protests with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi when the pair meet on October 1.
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Hong Kong leader CY Leung has urged Occupy Central protesters to stop their campaign after tens of thousands of people have been blocking streets in several areas.
The protesters want Beijing to give Hong Kong a free vote for its next leader, something Beijing has rejected.
The streets are now relatively quiet but crowds are set to swell later ahead of Chinese National Day on October 1.
People were sleeping and clearing up on September 30 before larger gatherings expected during the evening.
October 1 is a national holiday marking the founding of Communist China.
At the weekend police used tear gas and pepper spray, but riot police have since been withdrawn and protesters remain calm.
Key parts of the city are being blocked by protesters, with some schools and banks closed.
CY Leung has urged Occupy Central protesters to stop their campaign after tens of thousands of people have been blocking Hong Kong streets
The protesters want CY Leung, the chief executive, to step down. But he appeared to reject their demand, saying that his removal would mean Hong Kong’s next leader being chosen by a committee, as in 2012, rather than by voters.
CY Leung also called on the protesters – a mix of students, supporters of the pro-democracy Occupy Central group and others angered by the police response to the protests – to go home.
“Occupy Central founders had said repeatedly that if the movement is getting out of control, they would call for it to stop,” CY Leung said.
“I’m now asking them to fulfill the promise they made to society, and stop this campaign immediately.”
Beijing ruled last month that Hong Kong people can elect their next leader in 2017.
But the choice of candidates will be restricted to two or three people who must be approved by the majority of a pro-Beijing committee – meaning Beijing can effectively screen candidates.
In Hong Kong, further consultations had been due to take place on the ruling but on September 29 a senior official said these would be postponed until a “better time”.
In its latest statement, Occupy Central accused the government of “delay tactics”, saying it believed the government was “just hoping people’s desire for genuine universal suffrage to fade out over time”.
Occupy Central also repeated calls for CY Leung’s resignation, saying he would be “condemned by the history of democratic development in Hong Kong”.
Tens of thousands of protesters have blocked the streets of Hong Kong, shutting down businesses and ignoring appeals to leave.
The demonstrations have spread to other areas including a shopping district and a residential area.
Riot police withdrew on September 29 after overnight clashes in which they used batons and fired volleys of tear gas to try to disperse the crowds.
China has warned other countries not to support the “illegal rallies”.
Its foreign ministry said it opposed any interference in China’s internal affairs.
Meanwhile the British government called for the right to protest to be protected.
Tens of thousands of protesters have blocked the streets of Hong Kong, shutting down businesses and ignoring appeals to leave (photo AFP)
Protesters – a mix of students and supporters of the Occupy Central pro-democracy movement – are angry at Beijing’s plans to vet candidates for Hong Kong’s 2017 leadership elections.
They want a free choice of candidates when they cast their ballots for the chief executive – something Beijing says is out of the question.
On September 28, dozens of protesters have been arrested on Hong Kong’s streets as tens of thousands of protesters faced riot police in the heart of the city.
In a news conference on September 29, Cheung Tak-keung, assistant commissioner of police for operations, said police had used the “bare minimum force”.
Cheung Tak-keung said 41 people had been injured in the past three days, including 12 police officers.
The Hong Kong government urged protesters to stay calm and leave peacefully but crowds remained camped out around the government complex.
About 3,000 people have also blocked a major road across the bay in Mongkok, on the Kowloon peninsula, while a crowd of about 1,000 faced police in the busy shopping district of Causeway Bay, east of central Hong Kong.
Schools in the Wan Chai, Central and Western districts were closed on September 29 and will remain shut on the next day, according to the Hong Kong Education Bureau.
The city remains heavily disrupted, with several major thoroughfares blocked.
China, which stations a garrison of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Hong Kong, said it was confident the city’s administration could handle the protests.
Tensions escalated on September 28 when the broader Occupy Central protest movement threw its weight behind student-led protests, bringing forward a mass civil disobedience campaign due to start on October 1.
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Occupy Central protesters have issued demands for the Chinese government to scrap rules outlining the election of the next chief executive in 2017.
The protest group also wants the resumption of public consultation on democratic reforms.
Thousands of protesters are camped outside government headquarters in central Hong Kong.
Occupy Central leader Benny Tai announced the launch of the campaign to the cheers of supporters on September 27.
A statement said that Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung had “failed to deliver on political reform”.
“We demand CY Leung deliver a new report on political reform to the central government, which must adequately reflect the demands of Hong Kong people for democracy,” it said.
“If CY Leung does not respond, we will escalate our actions.”
The movement had originally planned to paralyze the central business district on September 24, but organizers brought forward the start of the protest and changed the location in an apparent bid to harness momentum from student protests outside the government complex.
Student activists had stormed into a courtyard of the complex late on September 26 and scuffled with police using pepper spray.
Occupy Central protesters have issued demands for the Chinese government to scrap rules outlining the election of the next chief executive in 2017
Police said they made scores of arrests including prominent student activist leader Joshua Wong.
However, some students expressed unease that their protest was apparently being taken over by Occupy Central.
The protests at government headquarters followed a week-long strike by thousands of students.
Unrest began when the Chinese government announced that candidates for the 2017 chief executive election would first have to be approved by a nominating committee.
Activists have argued that this does not amount to true democracy.
Many of those who spent the night on the streets wore plastic raincoats and goggles in case police deployed more pepper spray.
Riot police stood nearby.
“The courage of the students and members of the public in their spontaneous decision to stay has touched many Hong Kong people,” Occupy Central 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.”
At least 34 people have been injured since the protests began, including four police officers and 11 government staff and guards, authorities said.
One police officer suffered a gash after being poked by one of the umbrellas protesters are using to deflect pepper spray.
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