Hong Kong to evict last Occupy sit-in in Asia
Court approves eviction of protesters camped for 10 months outside landmark HSBC tower in city’s financial district.
A court in Hong Kong approved the eviction of protesters camped outside the city’s HSBC bank headquarters in a major blow to the last outpost of the “Occupy” movement in Asia.
“The defendants can’t provide sufficient reason to continue to live on the property so the court has decided to allow the plaintiff to take back the property,” magistrate Reuden Lai said on Monday.
The camp sprouted at the landmark HSBC tower in central Hong Kong 10 months ago, weeks after thousands of people pitched tents in a New York park demanding an overhaul of the rules of global capitalism.
Similar camps sprang up in dozens of countries worldwide, but most have petered out since police forcibly dismantled the New York tent city in November last year.
The High Court gave the Hong Kong protesters 14 days to leave the courtyard of the bank’s downtown office tower, after which HSBC would be entitled to reclaim the site.
Only a handful sleep at the camp overnight, and during the day there are rarely more than 10, according to witnesses and bank officials.
Even so, their tents, personal belongings and banners denouncing capitalism have become a fixture at the HSBC building in one of Hong Kong’s most exclusive shopping and financial districts.
“We welcome the decision of the court and look to the occupiers to follow the terms of the court order,” HSBC spokesperson Gareth Hewett told AFP news agency.
London-based HSBC, Europe’s biggest bank, brought its case against the “occupiers of the ground floor” of its Asian headquarters, along with three individuals it identified as the ringleaders of the protest.
Defiant protester Tam Mei-kam, 89, said: “They can try all they want, I won’t leave.”
But fellow occupier Ho Yiu Shing said he would “find another suitable place” to continue his protest.
HSBC was spared the worst of the 2008 global financial crisis and did not receive one of the US government bailouts that spurred the original New York Occupy movement.