Defiant pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong have adopted the three-fingered salute given by Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. In the books and films, the salute symbolises rebellion against totalitarian rule. The gesture was also used in Thailand this year during protests against the military regime.

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A pro-democracy demonstrator wearing a mask gestures by holding his three middle fingers up during a sit-in outside government headquartersDale de la Rey/AFP
hong Kong hunger games salute
Pro-democracy supporters give The Hunger Games salute outside the government headquarters in Hong KongAthit Perawongmetha/Reuters
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Demonstrators show The Hunger Games-style deviance as police clear the main protest site in the Admiralty districtDale de la Rey/AFP
katniss three fingers salute hunger games
Katniss gives a three-fingered salute in "The Hunger Games" to symbolise rebellion against totalitarian ruleLionsgate

Police cleared most of the main pro-democracy protest site, arresting the few remaining activists, marking an end to more than two months of street demonstrations that have blocked key roads in the Chinese-controlled city.

Many activists chose to leave the site peacefully, but the overall mood was one of defiance as protesters chanted: "We will be back".

Banners bearing the words "We'll be back" were draped around the site where protesters had camped out.

Next to the People's Liberation Army base, a huge banner erected across barricades read: "It's just the beginning."

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Workers remove a banner near the government headquarters in Hong KongTyrone Siu/Reuters
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A huge banner is pictured on an overpass in the final hours before police cleared the main protest siteAthit Perawongmetha/Reuters
hong kong well be back
Signs reading "We'll be back" are seen in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong before police arrived to clear the campPedro Ugarte/AFP
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Pro-democracy supporters bid farewell to each other next to a banner which reads "We'll be back"Bobby Yip/Reuters

Hong Kong Federation of Students leader Alex Chow said: "You might have the clearance today but people will come back to the streets another day."

Volunteers and protesters scrambled to preserve "Umbrella Movement" artwork, including tens of thousands of messages of support posted on a wall in the area.

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Pro-democracy protesters remove signs put up during the past two month, but leave intact the notice "We are dreamers"Pedro Ugarte/AFP
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A man takes a self-portrait in front of a pro-democracy artwork at the Occupy Central protest site in AdmiraltyBobby Yip/Reuters
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People pose for a photo next to a large yellow umbrella – a symbol of the pro-democracy protests – hours before police were expected to move inAlex Ogle/AFP
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Police dismantle the giant umbrella as they clear the protest camp next to the central government offices in Hong KongAlex Ogle/AFP
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A Christmas decoration on a building is reflected on the shield of a policemanTyrone Siu/Reuters
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Workers remove barricades near the government headquarters in Hong KongAthit Perawongmetha/Reuters

The mainly peaceful protests to demand free elections in the former British colony have represented one of the most serious challenges to China's authority since the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations and bloody crackdown in and around Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

Despite the clearance, the Occupy movement has been a social watershed, with people pushing back against increasing control and standing up to Beijing to preserve democracy and freedoms largely denied on the mainland.

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Singer and actress Denise Ho, one of the most high-profile supporters of the protests, is taken away by policewomenTyrone Siu/Reuters
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A demonstrator is taken away by police outside the government headquarters in Hong KongTyrone Siu/Reuters
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Police arrest pro-democracy activist Leung Kwok-Hung, wearing a Che Guevara T-shirtAlex Ogle/AFP

"The movement has been an awakening process for Hong Kong. People who weren't interested in politics before are now and aren't afraid to get arrested, especially the young people," said Labour Party lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan.

The protests drew well over 100,000 at their peak as students vented their anger at Beijing's refusal to budge on electoral reforms.