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Hong Kong Polytechnic University: Protesters still inside as standoff continues

bbc.com

Between 100-200 protesters remain barricaded inside a Hong Kong university surrounded by police, as the standoff enters a third day.

 

Protesters inside Polytechnic University are said to be running low on supplies.

 

Since last week protesters have been inside the campus, initially preventing police from clearing them out.

 

But police then said they would be arrested for rioting, leaving some too scared to leave.

 

Tensions could be further inflamed by China condemning a decision by Hong Kong’s high court to overturn a ban on face-masks.

 

On Sunday night, police warned protesters they had until 22:00 (14:00 GMT) to leave the campus, saying they could use live ammunition if the attacks continued.

 

Police later moved in, surrounding the campus, leading to protesters throwing petrol bombs and firing rocks from catapults.

 

On Monday, dozens of protesters were arrested by police officers as they attempted to run from the campus. A small group managed to leave using rope ladders before being picked up by motorcycles.

 

Those arrested could be charged with rioting, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

 

The violence at PolyU is one of the biggest flare-ups Hong Kong has seen since protests broke out in June.

 

The mostly young protesters have five key demands including an investigation into police brutality and universal suffrage.

 

But underpinning it all is the fear Hong Kong’s unique identity is threatened by China.

 

What is happening today?

An estimated 100 to 200 protesters still remain in PolyU, authorities have said.

 

But a handful of protesters have been trickling out of the university, some suffering from hypothermia and leg injuries, according to news site SCMP.

 

One protester said he decided to come out due to “hunger and cold”, adding that many insides were “hurt without enough medical supplies”.

 

Pro-democracy lawmaker Ted Hui had earlier said protesters did not have enough supplies to “last another day”.

 

Another 16-year-old protester told Reuters that she chose to “surrender”.

 

“We have been trying to escape since yesterday morning. But then we couldn’t find a way out [and] were afraid of being charged,” she said. “This is the only way… I was quite desperate.”

 

These are not the first batch of students to have left the campus.

 

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, more than 200 students below the age of 18 left, accompanied by various education officials, including high school principals.

 

Those under the age of 18 had their identities recorded and were let go. Around 100 adults also left and were immediately arrested.

 

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has called on all protesters to surrender, asking them to “come out peacefully and take instructions from police”.

 

Separately on Tuesday, Hong Kong’s new police chief took office.

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