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Authorities Clear Main Protest Site in Hong Kong

Pro-democracy supporters bid farewell to each other next to a banner that reads "We will be back" outside the government headquarters building at the financial district in Hong Kong, Dec. 11, 2014.

Hong Kong authorities have begun clearing the territory's main protest site, bringing a likely end to more than two months of pro-democracy demonstrations there.

Hundreds of police stood by on Thursday as bailiffs dismantled makeshift barricades that were blocking the street in the Admiralty district, near government headquarters.

The bailiffs are enforcing a High Court ruling that allows authorities to reopen traffic in Admiralty. Similar actions are expected to take place at another site in Causeway Bay.

Demonstrators put up little resistance and no clashes were reported. Many had already complied with police orders and begun tearing down parts of the sprawling tent village.

Some pro-democracy lawmakers are joining the protesters as a sign of unity, including Democratic Party Chief Executive Lam Cheuk-Ting.

“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 Lam.

There were tears among some protesters who had made the site home for much of the past two months. Some held signs saying, "We'll be back."

At its peak, the so-called Occupy protest movement attracted tens of thousands of demonstrators, presenting an unprecedented challenge to Beijing's rule of Hong Kong.

The protesters want Beijing to allow fully democratic elections for Hong Kong's top leader in 2017. China has said all candidates must pass through a screening process.

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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