HONG KONG (AP) — Pro-democracy protesters camped out on main streets in Hong Kong for more than six weeks face arrest after a court authorized police to help bailiffs clear them from occupation sites, a senior government official warned Tuesday.
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam also said there's no room for further dialogue with the student-led protesters, whom she said had hardened their position, raising the prospect of further violence as the government struggles to end the mostly peaceful standoff.
Lam's remarks to reporters came a day after Hong Kong's High Court extended injunctions requiring protesters to leave two of the three protest sites while also authorizing bailiffs to seek police assistance to clear the areas.
Lam said that "the police will give full assistance, including making arrests where necessary," to enforce the injunctions.
She urged protesters to "voluntarily and peacefully" leave the occupied areas so that roads and building entrances can be reopened.
The protesters have been occupying key thoroughfares since Sept. 28 to protest the Chinese central government's requirement that candidates for inaugural 2017 elections for Hong Kong's top leader be screened by a panel of Beijing-friendly elites.
On Monday, a judge extended interim restraining orders taken out three weeks ago by bus, minibus and taxi operators against protesters blocking streets in Hong Kong's densely populated Mong Kok district. The owner of an office building adjacent to the main protest site surrounding city government headquarters in Admiralty district also had a restraining order extended.
Previous police attempts to clear protesters with force from occupied areas have backfired, drawing more demonstrators onto the streets and forcing authorities to back off.