NEW: Chief executive's office calls student protest leaders' demands "impractical"
The three Occupy founders have encouraged student protesters to retreat
But the younger leaders of the pro-democracy protests aren't showing any sign of budging
Police say 24 people surrendered Wednesday
Three co-founders of a pro-democracy organization that’s been demonstrating for weeks in Hong Kong reported to police Wednesday, though other groups – hunger strikers among them – remain out in force, demanding sweeping reforms on the island.
The three leaders of Occupy Central with Love and Peace, all middle-aged men, announced their intention to surrender to police a day earlier and encouraged student protesters to stand down, too.
But their younger counterparts aren’t budging for the time being, despite the recent loss of one key protest site and clashes with police at the demonstrators’ main encampment earlier this week.
“For the sake of the occupiers’ safety, for the sake of our original intention of love and peace, as we prepare to surrender, we three urge the students to retreat,” Benny Tai, one of the three Occupy co-founders, said at a news conference Tuesday.
Tai, a law professor, first came up with the idea to “occupy” downtown Hong Kong to call for universal suffrage, but he has not always been on the same page as student leaders, who launched the current protests two months ago.
Those other groups, Scholarism and the Hong Kong Federation of Students, haven’t given any indication they will budge in their demands, chief among them that citizens be allowed to elect their next leader from an open field of candidates rather than those preselected by a committee loyal to the Chinese government.
Earlier this fall, the two groups even penned an open letter urging Chinese President Xi Jinping to closely consider their cause.
“There will only be more citizens, disillusioned with our corrupted institutions, marching and protesting, as long as no genuine democracy is practiced in this place,” they wrote.
Some Scholarism members are waging a hunger strike in an effort to secure talks with the Hong Kong government to demand democracy.
Yet, in a statement Wednesday, Chief Executive C.Y. Leung’s office urged them to “take good care of their health” and said that “expressing views on constitutional reform through illegal and confrontational means is bound to be futile.”
The request by some Scholarism members to conduct dialogue with the government on relaunching “constitutional reform will not and could not be (accepted) by the government (because) it is impractical and has contravened the legal procedures,” Leung’s office said.
Protest leader: Asked to recount offenses
Tai and the other two co-founders, Chan Kin-Man and Chu Yiu-Ming, left the police station in central Hong Kong after about an hour Wednesday.
Tai told reporters outside that they were asked to record their particular offenses committed during the protest movement and then told they were free to go. He said they were not given a date of when they need to return to the police station.
Police said 24 people, ages 33 to 82, surrendered at the police station Wednesday “for the offense of ‘taking part in an unauthorized assembly.’ “
Many of the people taking part in the decentralized protest movement do not consider the Occupy founders to be their leaders, and they are unlikely to be influenced by Tai’s call for retreat.
CNN’s Mitra Mobasherat and Katie Hunt contributed to this report.