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Hong Kong police clear another protest site, arrest student leaders

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Police clear the protest camp in the working-class district of Mong Kok.Photograph by Alex Ogle — AFP/Getty Images

Hong Kong’s police and court-appointed bailiffs cleared another one of the sites occupied by pro-democracy protesters, arresting 116 people, including a number of the students who have led the two-month protest.

Activists such as Joshua Wong and Lester Shum, who have been made into poster-boys of the pro-democracy protests by the western press, were charged with contempt of court for failing to obey a court order to vacate a protest site in the busy Mong Kok area of downtown Hong Kong, according to the South China Morning Post.

Reuters reported that scuffles but no serious violence as the site on Nathan Road was cleared. It said that locals, who have grown increasingly frustrated with the disruption to their lives caused by the protests, cheered and applauded as the barricades were removed.

However, tension continued to run high as the SCMP said that protesters planned to return to the site as night fell.

The Occupy Central protest movement, which brought over 100,000 people onto the streets at the start of its campaign, has lost momentum in recent weeks, having failed to extract any meaningful concessions from the authorities over their plans to restrict the choice of candidates at upcoming elections to the city’s Legislative Council.

The protesters argue that the plans violate the promise China made to maintain democracy in Hong Kong after retaking control of the former British colony in 1997.

Protesters still occupy areas of the government quarter in the city’s Admiralty district and the shopping area of Causeway Bay. However, the SCMP reported that when police cleared the site in Mong Kok Wednesday, there were more journalists than protesters present.