Bloomberg News

Hong Kong Protesters Vow to Stay as HSBC Seeks Eviction

June 25, 2012

Hong Kong’s Occupy Central protesters have vowed to remain at the ground floor of the HSBC Holdings Plc (5) headquarters in the city after the bank applied to a court to evict them.

The city’s High Court will hear the application on July 16. The demonstrators rejected an earlier request by HSBC that they voluntarily pack up their tents and leave the premises. The bank named the occupiers of the Central site and three other individuals as defendants in its lawsuit, according to a filing to the High Court of Hong Kong.

“We have worked with the relevant authorities regarding this matter, including the police,” Gareth Hewett, an HSBC spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement. The bank will decide on its next step pending the outcome of the court case, he said.

The eight-month protest in Hong Kong is the latest in the global Occupy Movement, which started in New York last year, to face eviction. Police in London removed campaigners in London on June 14; while in the U.S., New York and Oakland, California, demonstrations ended in a confrontation with authorities in November.

About 20 tents, a couple sofas and bookshelves were scattered around the Hong Kong plaza today as the demonstrators sat around playing musical instruments or engaging passersby.

Discuss Strategy

Tiv Wong, one of the Hong Kong demonstrators, said she hadn’t received notice of the lawsuit and the group doesn’t plan to give up its protest. Jojo Wong, a 22-year-old occupant at the site, said the 40-odd occupiers will discuss the strategy in the light of the lawsuit.

“I hope to maintain my little corner there,” said Ho Yiu-shing, one of the defendants named by HSBC in the lawsuit. He said he had written to the bank to ask for permission to remain there, and that he will decide on his next move after he has studied the court documents.

The occupation in Hong Kong seeks to create a community space for discussion and sharing of the group’s ideals, Occupy Central activists said in a statement on its Facebook page.

The bank named “The Occupiers of the Ground Floor of 1 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong,” Wong Chung-hang and Mui Kai-ming as the other defendants in the lawsuit, according to the documents.

HSBC said earlier that it asked the protesters to leave so that it can host community events. The site is the bank’s property and is designated as a pedestrian area, according to the court documents filed by the lender.

The bank asked the court to rule that the protesters do not have a license or consent to occupy the area, according to the documents.

Hong Kong is one of the several Asian cities, including Seoul, Taipei and Tokyo, that have seen protests inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York that began in September 17, 2011.

The U.S. demonstration started as way to highlight “the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse,” according to the Occupy Wall Street website. The action spread to more than 1,500 cities worldwide, it said.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Hwee Ann Tan at hatan@bloomberg.net

To contact the reporters for this story: Simon Lee in Hong Kong at slee936@bloomberg.net


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