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Hong Kong Protesters: Police Raids Threaten Proposed Talks

  • VOA News

A group helping organize pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong said the latest police raid on demonstrators calls into question the government's commitment to engaging in dialogue.

Hundreds of police officers carried out the pre-dawn raid Friday, tearing down barricades, tents and canopies that have blocked city streets for more than two weeks in the busy Mong Kok district.

About 30 protesters who were surrounded by police left the area without resisting, though many defiant protesters stayed behind and continued blocking part of the multi-lane street.

Occupy Central, which has led the civil disobedience campaign, condemned the raid, saying in a statement that the government is "creating obstacles to dialogue."

On Thursday, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said he was looking for ways to resume talks with protest leaders that stalled earlier this month after the government backed out.

Leung said an intermediary was helping arrange for new talks, which could be held as early as next week.

The Friday raid was the third such police action to unblock city streets since late September, when protesters occupied the city's center to press China to stop interfering in upcoming local elections.

On Wednesday, hundreds of police - some wielding clubs and pepper spray - pushed back protesters battling for control of a road near city government headquarters.

Video footage showed plain clothed officers dragging a handcuffed protester into the darkened entrance of a building, where they repeatedly kicked and punched him for four minutes. The video sparked a late evening protest in front of police headquarters.

Leung has said he is open to discussing universal suffrage, but communist authorities in Beijing say they will not change a decision to vet candidates for the territory's 2017 vote and will not enact further electoral reforms.

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