Police dismantled the final umbrella movement protest encampment in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong on Tuesday morning. Traffic was restored around lunchtime as police made 20 arrests. After 79 days of protest, pro-democracy demonstrators were given 30 minutes to pack up and leave. Most left the area, but around 17 people remained at a sit-in awaiting arrest.
In the run-up to Hong Kong's occupation protests, the initiators of the movement were called "radicals" and "extremists" and their actions dubbed "terrorism". Yet the young people peacefully demonstrating for universal suffrage across the city have won hearts and minds across the world in what amounts to a meticulous reading of peaceful dissent. By putting the "civil" in "civil disobedience", these young protesters have already won an important moral victory, no matter what happens next.
It is unlikely that these demonstrations seen today in Hong Kong will bring about significant change. Nevertheless, whether you are a democracy advocating global citizen, a government looking at how best to peacefully manage demonstrations, or just someone interested in international politics and what life in a future, more developed, China might look like, today's protests are a significant event worth watching closely.
The fight goes beyond the call for a full democracy. It is the protection of the very basic rights of a population, under threat of a state that finds the idea of human rights laughable. And to those who don't realise what that has meant yet, remember... you only know what you've got, when it's gone.