[JURIST] A Hong Kong court notice ordering authorities to start clearing protest sites that have been occupied for seven weeks [BBC backgrounder] was published in leading newspapers on Saturday. The notice will allow authorities, who have been on standby waiting to take action, to immediately begin clearing out the most concentrated protest areas. Tens of thousands of protesters have been demonstrating since September 28 on three major Hong Kong throughfares as part of a movement known as Occupy Central [advocacy website]. Occupy Central is a “nonviolent direct action movement that demands genuine universal suffrage in Hong Kong in compliance with international law, in particular one-person-one-vote and the right to run and be elected to office without unreasonable restrictions.” China has refused to give in and continues to assert that all potential candidates be approved by a loyalist committee.
China’s human rights record has garnered international attention for the government’s treatment of the growing civil rights movement [JURIST op-ed] in the country, led by a number of prominent rights activists and attorneys. When the protests started in late September the Hong Kong police department immediately cleared the main government compound of pro-democracy supporters who occupied the area in protest, but the protests continued elsewhere. In June a Chinese court denied bail [JURIST report] to prominent human rights lawyer, Pu Zhiqiang, who is likely to be indicted in the country’s attempt to deter growing legal activism. Pu was detained [JURIST report] last month for “causing a disturbance” after he attended a weekend meeting that urged an investigation into the 1989 crackdown of pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. Many believe that the government’s actions against Pu are intended to set an example, in hopes of silencing the growing dissonance and social activism amongst lawyers in China. In May Chinese officials in the western region of Xinjiang held a public rally [JURIST report] at a sports stadium for the mass sentencing of criminals.