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HSBC Wins Court Order Allowing Removal of Occupy Protesters

Tents set up by Occupy Hong Kong protesters stand under the HSBC Holdings Plc headquarters in Hong Kong. Photographer: Thomas Lee/Bloomberg
Tents set up by Occupy Hong Kong protesters stand under the HSBC Holdings Plc headquarters in Hong Kong. Photographer: Thomas Lee/Bloomberg

Aug. 13 (Bloomberg) -- HSBC Holdings Plc won a Hong Kong court order for the removal of protesters who have spent almost 10 months under its Asian headquarters, one of the longest-running demonstrations sparked by the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Protesters must leave the area before 9 p.m. on Aug. 27, Master R. Lai said today at Hong Kong’s Court of First Instance. The court will assign a bailiff to execute the order, Lai said.

Protesters for Occupy Wall Street, whose movement to highlight income inequality spread from New York to other cities globally, were evicted in November, and others in London were forced to leave from their Finsbury Square camp on June 14. In Hong Kong, protesters numbering about 50 at the peak have pitched tents and laid out couches in the ground floor plaza under HSBC’s Central building.

“We don’t think the court ruling should be the only barometer,” Leung Wing-lai, a 30-year-old participant of Occupy Central, said today. “We will think about what to do with the potential forceful removal. We won’t leave.”

As many as 100 police officers were involved in evicting Occupy London campaigners from Finsbury Square near the city’s financial district in June. The operation followed a court ruling that the area must be returned to community use. There were no arrests and no violent incidents during the operation, according to London’s Metropolitan Police Service.

Income Inequality

In New York, police pushed into Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan on Nov. 15, forcibly removing demonstrators who had been camping there to protest unemployment, income inequality and the financial industry.

“We welcome the decision of the court and look to the occupiers to follow the terms of the court order,” said Gareth Hewett, an HSBC spokesman.

Other Asian cities including Seoul, Taipei and Tokyo have seen protests inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement spread to their streets since last October.

While Hong Kong has seen its wealth gap widen to a record, stoking public discontent, the Occupy Central movement has failed to attract demonstrators equal in number to those that took part in protest marches this year. On July 1, the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, as many as 112,000 people took to the streets to demand more be done about income inequality, human rights in China and higher minimum wages.

The case is Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. and The occupiers of the ground floor of 1 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong, HCMP1271/2012 in the Court of First Instance Hong Kong.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Tong in Hong Kong at stong17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Douglas Wong at dwong19@bloomberg.net

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