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HSBC can evict HK Occupy activists, court rules

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HONG KONG » Hong Kong’s Occupy movement needs to find a new home.

HSBC won a legal bid on Monday to clear out anti-capitalist protesters from a public space below the bank’s Asian headquarters in the southern Chinese financial center. A judge ruled that the activists must leave by 9 p.m. on Aug. 27.

Occupy activists have been living under the bank’s headquarters since Oct. 15, when protesters in Hong Kong joined others around the world in a day of demonstrations against corporate excess and economic inequality. The movement is generally thought to have begun Sept. 17, when tents sprang up at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan.

About a dozen Occupy activists are still living in the large open space on the ground floor of the striking, Norman Foster-designed HSBC building, one of Hong Kong’s most recognizable landmarks. Their numbers have dwindled from more than 200 at the height of the movement, local news reports said.

The activists have made themselves at home by setting up tents, tables, sofas and chairs, bookcases, lamps and gas cookers. They have outlasted many other Occupy encampments around the world that have been shut down by authorities. Members have vowed not to budge.

"We’ve never asked for permission from the law, we’ve never asked for permission from the courts, we’ve never asked for permission from HSBC," said Nin Chan, one of the Occupy activists. "From the very beginning we’ve never recognized these authorities as legitimate."

While HSBC owns the land, it’s legally designated as a public passageway. The judge ruled that the activists’ use of the space goes beyond the land’s designated use.

"We welcome the court ruling, and we look forward to the occupiers following the court order," said HSBC spokesman Gareth Hewett.

HSBC named four defendants in its lawsuit: one was the "occupiers of the ground floor" of its building and three others were people that Occupy activists said were loosely related to their movement. Mui Kai-ming, one of the three, said he would "absolutely" not leave.

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