Skip to content
#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Riot police detain a protester yesterday.
Riot police detain a protester yesterday.
Image: Achmad Ibrahim AP/PA Images

Families hold anxious vigil outside Hong Kong university as 100 protesters remain besieged

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has called for a peaceful end to the siege.
Nov 19th 2019, 7:08 AM 6,488 7

ABOUT 100 ANTI-GOVERNMENT protesters remain holed up at a Hong Kong university as a police siege of the campus entered its third day.

City leader Carrie Lam said 600 people had left the Hong Kong Polytechnic campus, including 200 who are under 18 years old.

Police have surrounded the university and are arresting anyone who leaves. Groups of protesters made several attempts to escape yesterday, including sliding down hoses to waiting motorcycles, but it was not clear if they evaded arrest.

Lam said those under 18 would not be immediately arrested but could face charges later. She said the other 400 who have left have been arrested.

“We will use whatever means to continue to persuade and arrange for these remaining protesters to leave the campus as soon as possible so that this whole operation could end in a peaceful manner,” she said after a weekly meeting with advisers.

After five months, the Hong Kong protest movement has steadily intensified as local and Beijing authorities harden their positions and refuse to make concessions.

Universities became the latest battleground last week, as protesters occupied several campuses, using petrol bombs and bows and arrows to fend off riot police backed by armoured cars and water cannon. Those at Polytechnic are the last holdouts.

Relatives of some of the protesters held an anxious vigil outside today.

One mother in her 50s, whose surname is Chan, said she was terrified that police would storm the campus with guns blazing and her 18-year-old son would be injured or even killed.

“I’m worried when the police go in to attack there will be heavy casualties, a Tiananmen 2.0,” she said, referring to the 1989 quashing of pro-democracy protests in the Chinese capital.

A woman named Cheung said she had spent last night in a park near a police cordon as she waited for news of her adult son, who she said came to the campus as a first aider.

“I was very, very worried, worried his life could be in danger. He’s scared. He’s scared about being arrested by the cops,” she said. 

A father in his 50s, who gave his name as Wong, said his 17-year-old daughter had initially refused to surrender because she feared arrest and a ten-year jail term for rioting, but had finally agreed to come out with her school principal.

“I’m worried about her personal safety, the legal stuff we can sort out later,” he told AFP.

“If the police really go in to clear the place, once they’re inside no one knows what would happen in there. Anything could happen and we can’t predict. 

“If in the worst case scenario, they really use live rounds, they could give any story they want and we wouldn’t know what really happened… Who would people believe?”

China, which took control of the former British colony in 1997 promising to let it retain considerable autonomy, flexed its muscles, sending troops outside their barracks over the weekend to help clean up debris strewn by protesters to block streets.

China’s ambassador to Britain accused the UK and the US of meddling in the country’s internal affairs and warned that the Chinese government “will not sit on our hands” if the situation in Hong Kong “becomes uncontrollable”.

Lam, asked whether she would seek help from Chinese troops based in Hong Kong, said her government remains confident it is able to cope with the situation.

China also hinted it might overrule the Hong Kong’s high court ruling yesterday to strike down a ban on face masks that was aimed at preventing protesters from hiding their identity to evade arrest.

A statement from the National People’s Congress’s (NPC) Legislative Affairs Commission said the decision does not conform with the territory’s constitution, known as the Basic Law, or decisions by the Congress.

“We are currently studying opinions and suggestions raised by some NPC deputies,” the statement said.

Yesterday’s ruling said the ban infringes on fundamental rights more than is reasonably necessary. The ban has been widely disregarded.

With reporting from AFP

Send a tip to the author

Press Association


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a comment

    cancel reply
    Back to top