Politics

Images of Hong Kong's democracy movement

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AARON TAM | AFP | Getty Images

A civil disobedience movement that started in Hong Kong earlier this year has intensified in the worst outbreak of political unrest the city has seen in two decades.

The pro-democracy rallies gained momentum on October 1 as China's week-long national day holiday kicked off. Fears were high that police would use force to prevent disruption o national day celebrations in a repeat of recent violence but so far, the atmosphere was peaceful.

Riot police used tear gas, pepper spray and batons on thousands of political activists, professionals and students on September 28. The level of violence drew comparisons with the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing, leading countries including Australia and Italy to issue travel warnings. Meanwhile, the financial industry is concerned that Hong Kong's reputation as a global financial hub could be damaged.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying urged citizens not to take part in the "illegal" protests, while authorities in Beijing said they are confident the Hong Kong government can handle the situation.

Demonstrators are protesting Beijing's conservative framework for political reform. Tensions between Beijing and Hong Kong worsened in June after China's Cabinet issued a policy document affirming that only candidates pre-approved by Beijing could be put on the ballot for Hong Kong's 2017 elections.

Here's a look at the most compelling images from the protests.

-Updated on October 1, 2014.

National Day rallies

PHILIPPE LOPEZ | AFP | Getty Images

On October 1, crowds began amassing at the city's Golden Bauhinia Square. Now in its fifth day, the mass campaign has spread to new areas of the city, including the popular Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district.

Students take charge

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Students belonging to the pro-democracy group 'Scholarism' rally at the Flag Raising Ceremony on October 1.

17-year old Joshua Wong, pictured in the center, is at the forefront of the student group. The teenager was among dozens of people arrested on September 26 when protesters rallied at the government's headquarters and was released a few days later.

Thunderstorms

ANTHONY WALLACE | AFP | Getty Images

Protesters use umbrellas to shield themselves from heavy rain on the night of September 30.

Tear gas

AARON TAM | AFP | Getty Images

People disperse after police fired tear gas on demonstrators near the Hong Kong government headquarters on September 28, 2014.

Use of force

Lam Yik Fei | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Protestors feared that police would use rubber bullets, but that didn't happen, according to local media reports.

'Polite protests'

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The protesters have gained an international reputation for their orderly behavior. Reports of protesters cleaning up their trash, recycling and using an umbrella as the symbol of their cause, meant to signify protection against the weather and the police's pepper spray.

Social media usage

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Protesters wave their cell phones in the air following a massive thunderstorm outside the government complex on September 30, 2014.

People have also taken to using FireChat, a smartphone messaging app that works without a cellular network or internet.

Volunteer support

Lam Yik Fei | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Volunteers and demonstrators outside a makeshift first-aid post, in the form of a commuter bus, in the business district of Admiralty.