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Hong Kong court bans protesters from blocking roads

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Hong Kong, Oct 20 :

The Hong Kong High Court Monday granted two interim injunctions barring protesters from occupying key areas in the city even as the Chinese government accused the demonstrators of “putting social order at risk”.

The first preliminary injunction was granted after groups of mini-bus and taxi operators filed for an injunction that would reopen the paralysed roads in Mong Kok occupied by protesters for the last 23 days, Xinhua reported.

File Pic of Hongkong protests
File Pic of Hongkong protests

It forbids the demonstrators from occupying the section of Nathan Road between Argyle Street and Dundas Street in Mongkok, and from putting up barricades there to block traffic.

A lawyer representing the group said the ongoing movement in places like Mong Kok has blocked many roads and disrupted public transport, which inflicted losses on taxi and bus companies.

Late Monday, the court granted a second interim injunction to bar protesters from continuing to occupy the section between Tim Mei Avenue and Lung Wui Road.

The application was filed by proprietors of the CITIC Tower, who complained that blocked roads have affected operations of emergency vehicles and threatened their safety.

The first injunction is due to expire Friday morning.

More scuffles erupted late Sunday, the third turbulent night in Mong Kok following the police’s pre-dawn operation Friday when most of the tents, canopies and barricades blocking main roads in the commercial area in Kowloon for almost three weeks were removed.

Mong Kok is an offshoot protest site across the Victoria Harbour from the main demonstration area in Admiralty where the government headquarters is located.

Hong Kong’s Chief Secretary Carrie Lam said Saturday that the region’s government planned to have formal talks with representatives of the students participating in the Occupy movement Tuesday, and each side will have five representatives.

Thousands of protesters, mostly students, joined the Occupy Central movement Sep 28 to express their discontent with an electoral reform package for choosing the region’s next leader.

The protests began a month after China announced that Hong Kong’s citizens would be able to vote directly for one of two or three vetted candidates previously selected by a special commission.

Meanwhile, Efe news agency reported from Beijing that the Chinese government Monday accused the pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong of “putting social order at risk”, a day before the start of negotiations between the protesters and the authorities.

“There are people in Hong Kong who are illegally blocking the main roads, opposing the law and putting the social order at risk,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying following yet another weekend of clashes between the police and activists.

Hua insisted that the activities of the movement that rejects the electoral system established by Beijing for 2017 local elections in Hong Kong were “totally illegal” and that the Communist regime fully backed the government of that territory in its actions to maintain law and order”.

The spokesperson also expressed support for statements made by Hong Kong Chief Executive C.Y. Leung Sunday in which he accused “external forces” of fuelling the pro-democratic movement.

Hua said that China “is completely opposed to any country trying to interfere in any way in Hong Kong’s matters” and accused external forces, without specifying any countries in particular, of “protecting and instigating illegal activities”.

The protests began in late September, a month after China announced that Hong Kong’s citizens would be able to vote directly for one of two or three vetted candidates previously selected by a special commission.

(IANS)