Hong Kong protests: University standoff lingers for 5th day

22, Nov. 2019


HONG KONG, Kyodo - Dozens of protesters still barricaded inside a Hong Kong university campus faced a deteriorating situation Thursday as a police siege entered its fifth day, according to a student representative who urged police to leave.

Owen Li, a member of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University's governing council, told local media RTHK that hygiene conditions have worsened on the campus and all medical volunteers have left.

He urged police to end their siege and allow the university to clean and decontaminate the campus.

Police have locked down the campus since Sunday and demanded those protesters remaining inside to come out and surrender. About 1,000 have either surrendered or been arrested.

Despite the increasingly squalid conditions, food, water and electricity are still available and hardcore protesters still inside the sealed off area remain defiant.

Local media reported that stench of garbage permeates area, while television footage showed an atrium strewn with bottles, possibly used for fire bombs, as well as broken glass, containers with unknown chemical contents, and facemasks

“I urge those remaining in the campus to leave as soon as possible,” university vice president Alexander Wai said after touring the campus.

Wai expressed concern over hygiene conditions and noted that some laboratory chemicals are missing.

The Hung Hom Cross Harbor Tunnel, of which the entrance is near the campus, remained closed off to traffic Thursday, though roadblocks set by protesters on an access road, as part of an almost daily traffic jam campaign, have mostly been cleared.

A lunchtime rally at a shopping mall in the business district of Central drew hundreds of people to show support to the anti-government protest and call for the U.S. government to sign a Hong Kong human rights bill.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill that if signed into effect by President Donald Trump would direct the State Department to conduct an annual review as to whether Hong Kong is sufficiently autonomous from China in light of U.S. law, in a bid to show support for the pro-democracy protest movement in the territory.

The protests, sparked by a now-withdrawn bill that sought to allow extraditions to mainland China, have been ongoing since June, presenting the government with its biggest challenge yet since the territory's handover to Chinese rule in 1997. (Kyodo)