About 100 anti-government protesters remained holed up at a Hong Kong university yesterday. Their options are shrinking—along with their food supplies. The holdouts are bracing themselves as police storm the campus for a third day. Meanwhile, China’s Communist leaders say that restoring order is the highest priority.
The Hong Kong protests began in June. The dispute was over a bill that would have sent some criminal suspects to mainland China for trial. Activists saw that as part of an ongoing erosion of Hong Kong’s rights and freedoms. (See “Hong Kong Freedoms Fading” for more information.)
The bill failed. But protesters have other demands, including fully democratic elections and investigations into police crackdowns.
In recent days, police have arrested more than 1,000 people. Hundreds of injured have been treated at hospitals.
Police shut down major roads and trains during rush hour every day last week. The closures turned university campuses into fortresses and blocked a major road tunnel. Now police are waiting it out with the remaining protesters.
Protesters have left all the universities except Hong Kong Polytechnic. There, several hundred barricaded themselves. Many fought police tear gas and water cannons with gasoline bombs launched from rooftops.
Those still at Polytechnic are the last holdouts. Surrounded, they now face arrest. Several groups have tried to escape, including one that slid down hoses from a footbridge to waiting motorcycles. But police say they have intercepted 37.
About 600 protesters had left by Tuesday morning, city leader Carrie Lam says. Of those, about 200 were under 18 years old. Family members and teachers arrived to pick up a few remaining underage participants. Officers recorded names and other information before letting them go.
That left about 100 still inside. The mood was grim. It was a big contrast to the excitement of a few days earlier.
“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,” Lam says.
Despite a seeming end to the violence, basic disputes suggest the protests are far from over. City leaders say violence must stop before talks can begin. But protesters say they need to keep ramping-up the violence to get the government to accept their demands.
In me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. — John 16:33
(Injured protesters huddle under blankets as they walk through the campus of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Hong Kong, Tuesday, November 19, 2019. AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)