A student organization at the forefront of the protests in Hong Kong said on Thursday that it would decide within about a week whether to abandon the street camps that have divided the city’s pro-democracy forces.
The comments from the organization, the Hong Kong Federation of Students, were the latest sign that the demonstrators’ determination to maintain the camps has eroded after more than two months. Yvonne Leung, a leader of the Federation of Students, said in an interview that the group would decide within about seven days whether to stay or to leave the two remaining street camps.
“We’ve tried both the soft and hard way, we’ve negotiated with them, and we’ve tried to blockade the government headquarters,” she said. “But the government has been unwavering, so we have to make a decision.” She and another leader of the federation made similar comments to Hong Kong news media earlier Thursday.
Last week, the police cleared one protest camp, in the busy Mong Kok neighborhood. But two others remain: a small camp in the Causeway Bay shopping area and a much larger one in the Admiralty neighborhood, near the city government headquarters. The student leaders have come under mounting pressure from political allies to leave the camps, especially after an unsuccessful attempt to blockade the government headquarters in Admiralty on Sunday.
But the protests have been sustained by a loose, grass-roots campaign, and even if student leaders call for a retreat, some ardent demonstrators appear likely to try to stay in the streets.
The Federation of Students, which represents university students, initiated a class boycott and protests in late September that expanded into street occupations after the police used tear gas and pepper spray to try to disperse the students, drawing much public sympathy.