Hong Kong pro­test­ers defy warn­ings

A dwin­dling num­ber of pro­test­ers re­mained hud­dled in­side Hong Kong Polytech­nic Univer­sity

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Hong Kong, China - Dozens of ex­hausted pro-democ­racy pro­test­ers oc­cu­py­ing a Hong Kong univer­sity de­fied warn­ings to sur­ren­der on Tues­day on the third day of a stand-off with po­lice, as China sent fresh sig­nals that its pa­tience with nearly six months of un­rest was run­ning out.

Fear­ing ar­rest or be­ing shot at by po­lice, a dwin­dling num­ber of pro­test­ers re­mained hud­dled in­side Hong Kong Polytech­nic Univer­sity (PolyU) as night fell.

The siege at PolyU be­gan on Sun­day with many hun­dreds of pro­test­ers oc­cu­py­ing the cam­pus as part of a broader cam­paign of mas­sive dis­rup­tion across Hong Kong that be­gan last week.

The en­su­ing con­fronta­tion turned into the most in­tense and pro­longed of Hong Kong’s prodemoc­racy cri­sis, which has seen mil­lions take to the streets since June to voice anger at China’s ero­sion of the ter­ri­tory’s free­doms.

Dur­ing the siege pro­test­ers had re­pelled po­lice surges with a bar­rage of Molo­tov cock­tails, ar­rows and bricks. Po­lice in re­sponse threat­ened to use live rounds.

Some pro­test­ers es­caped overnight on Mon­day by shin­ning down ropes from a foot­bridge to a road, where they were whisked away on mo­tor­bikes.

Oth­ers dis­ap­peared into man­holes to try to probe the drainage sys­tem for a route out.

In an ap­par­ently co-or­di­nated ef­fort to dis­tract po­lice, tens of thou­sands of peo­ple streamed to­wards the PolyU cam­pus on Mon­day night as clashes si­mul­ta­ne­ously raged with po­lice in nearby Kowloon dis­trict.

New phase of vi­o­lence

Footage on Mon­day showed ar­moured po­lice beat­ing fallen pro­test­ers with ba­tons as they lay on the ground.

One of­fi­cer was filmed stamp­ing on the head of a man who was al­ready sub­dued. Al­leged po­lice bru­tal­ity is one of the cen­tral com­plaints of the protest move­ment. Se­nior of­fi­cers in­sist their men are act­ing pro­por­tion­ately.

In her first public com­ments on the PolyU cri­sis, Hong Kong chief ex­ec­u­tive Car­rie Lam said sur­ren­der was the only way to achieve a peace­ful out­come.

“This ob­jec­tive could only be achieved with the full co­op­er­a­tion of the pro­test­ers, in­clud­ing of course the ri­ot­ers.”

“They have to stop vi­o­lence, give up the weapons and come out peace­fully and take the in­struc­tions from the po­lice,” she said.

Lam said chil­dren who sur­ren­dered would not be ar­rested, though pro­test­ers aged over 18 would face charges of ri­ot­ing.

About 1,000 peo­ple had been ar­rested through­out Hong Kong over the pre­vi­ous 24 hours, Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent Kwok Ka-chuen said on Tues­day af­ter­noon.

This was roughly a fifth of all ar­rests since the un­rest be­gan in June.

(AFP)

Pro­test­ers leave from the main en­trance to Hong Kong Polytech­nic Univer­sity cam­pus in the Hung Hom dis­trict in Hong Kong on Tues­day

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