Pro-democracy demonstrators have been removed from outside the legislature amid a protest over the pro-Beijing camp’s attempt to amend the LegCo’s rules in their favour.
Around 300 attended Monday’s protest, including lawmakers. Democrats had initially intended on camping overnight and surrounding the Legislative Council Complex on Wednesday. However, after repeated warnings from the police, they were removed from the site just before midnight.
Changes to the Rules of Procedure have been proposed mostly by the pro-Beijing camp in order to curb filibustering by democrats.
The pro-democracy camp does not have enough votes to block any modifications after six of its democratically-elected lawmakers were disqualified by a court following government legal action. The changes could rob them of power to block bills or form certain investigative committees.
Earlier in the evening, the protesters were ordered by a LegCo security guard to “behave in an orderly manner” and “comply with directions given by officer of the Council” under section 11 of the legislature’s administrative instructions. Protesters were forbidden from putting up tents, and were requested to retrieve any tents that had been erected.
“I have a right to protest,” demonstrators chanted.
Democrats across the political spectrum sit in and camp out to prevent the shameless puppets of Peking from change the Legislative Council Rules of Order. #LegCo #Democracy #BeHeard pic.twitter.com/j1WZLLZCaf
— Ray Chan (@ray_slowbeat) December 11, 2017
They were also told that, under the law, those who assault, interfere with or obstruct a Legislative Council officer are liable to a HK$10,000 fine and 12-months behind bars.
“Hong Kong is finished after the LegCo rules are changed,” one protester shouted outside the police barricade. “How can one person [LegCo president] has so much power?”
According to the Legislative Council rules, the demonstration area is only open for use between 7am and 11pm.
At around 11:30pm, the camps were peacefully pulled to the sidewalk, while the protesters were removed one by one from the site by guards. Some demonstrators had to be carried out by Legislative Council security officers.
The guards asked for police assistance at around 12:10am on Tuesday to more more protesters.
Earlier on Monday, Legislative Council President Andrew Leung announced the decision to host four additional meetings on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and next Monday so that the changes to the legislature’s rules could be handled before Christmas holidays.
Just in: Pro-democracy lawmakers are camping outside the #HongKong legislature in protest of proposed changes to the house rules which may rob them of power: https://t.co/3qki3CmXn6 Security have ordered them to leave. pic.twitter.com/jBwiSQWa26
— Hong Kong Free Press (@HongKongFP) December 11, 2017
The pro-democracy camp said that if, the legislature changes its Rules of Procedures, the government would face no opposition on issues such as the national anthem law, the controversial joint checkpoint arrangement for the express rail link, and legislating the national security law.
The protest came exactly three years since the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement camp was dismantled by police in Admiralty.
Additional reporting: Kris Cheng.