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Hong Kong Student Protesters Vow Defiance Until the End

Hong Kong student leaders are vowing to stay until the end as authorities prepare to clear the last remaining protest sites.

Student leaders late Wednesday called on everyone who has participated in protests over the past two months to return to the streets before police move in early Thursday.

Alex Chow, the secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, says authorities have left protesters with little choice but confrontation.

“Actually everybody can see the Occupy Movement has been going on for more than 70 days, but the government chooses to respond with political crackdown and clearing of sites, rather than proposing political solutions for political issues, that is, [not even] an inch of compromise in the political reform plan," he said," said Chow.

Some pro-democracy lawmakers say they will join with the protesters as a sign of unity. Democratic Party Chief Executive Lam Cheuk-Ting tells VOA many members of his party will come to Admiralty on Thursday.

“We will stick to the nonviolent principle and will not attack the police, but many members of our Democratic Party will stay here to be arrested by the police and assume our criminal liability; our principle is clear: we will not do anything to resist the police operation," said Cheuk-Ting.

The government is appealing for protesters to leave the occupied areas before police arrive. Chief Secretary Carrie Lam says, because of what she calls "radical elements" among the protesters, she cannot guarantee there will be no confrontations.

Many of the dozens of demonstrators who remain say they will not put up any resistance. Other more radical student groups have hinted they may clash with police.

Gary Cheung, a 14-year-old high-school student, tells VOA's Cantonese service that he is not afraid of being arrested.

“I feel myself part of the start of this disobedience movement, because if we clear the streets and reopen them not even in sight of a water spraying cleaning truck, then we do not cost the government any human or material resources. But if we stay to the last minute here, until they come to clear the site, even if we are not arrested, we undoubtedly will cost the government its police power or other resources," he said.

Police have given the protesters until Thursday to remove the street barricades at the territory's remaining protest sites in the Admiralty and Causeway Bay neighborhoods.

Thousands of police are set to move in to clear the camps, following a ruling by Hong Kong's High Court that gives authorities permission to reopen traffic in the area.

Police have used batons, tear gas and pepper spray during past attempts to break up the protest, which at one point numbered in the tens of thousands.

The protesters are calling for fully democratic elections for the city's top leader in 2017. Authorities refuse, insisting all candidates for chief executive be approved by a committee made up mainly of people loyal to Beijing.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, was returned to China in 1997. As a semiautonomous Chinese territory, its citizens still enjoy many freedoms not allowed on the mainland.

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