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Tuesday, Sep 22, 2020

Hong Kong Poly U siege a ‘humanitarian crisis’

Scarce supplies, police waiting, but some protesters vow no surrender even if they lose their lives

Several hundred students and protesters have been left with limited food and medical resources in the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), which has been surrounded by police from Sunday evening.

People in PolyU, including teachers, students, medial staff, social workers and journalists, are suffering from a “humanitarian crisis,” Anson Chan Fang On-shan, former Chief Secretary, said.

Chan urged Chief Executive Carrie Lam to order the police to stop using lethal weapons against the people inside the campus and to provide the injured with medical services.

Tens of thousands of people gathered in Tsim Sha Tsui on Monday to try to rescue the students who were surrounded by police in PolyU.

Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, a retired Hong Kong Roman Catholic cardinal, said in a video that humanitarianism must be respected even in wartime. He urged the government to offer medical services to those staying on the campus – or at least not to stop medical staff from entering PolyU.

In a 4pm media briefing, police said they would let the injured people in PolyU go to hospitals and would follow up those people’s cases later. They said they had allowed the Hong Kong Red Cross to enter the campus at about 2pm.

Police also said they would wait for the people in the university to surrender, instead of using force to arrest people in the campus. They said police would be in danger if they were attacked by “rioters” with weapons inside the university.

Police added that all people who walked out from the surrounded campus would face rioting charges.

Netizens also called for humanitarian aid to be provided, including food and water, to those inside the campus.

From noon, several hundred people started to throw bamboo sticks and debris on Nathan Road. Police arrived around 12:40pm and cleared the road for several police cars to pass through.

After they left, protesters re-occupied Nathan Road, demanding the release of the students and protesters from the Polytechnic University.

At around 1:30pm, more people arrived and had a standoff against the riot police on Chatham Road South.

Police fired many rounds of tear gas canisters and pepper balls during the clashes. Protesters resisted by throwing bricks and glass bottles. Police arrested about 10 people in the district between 1pm and 3pm.


On Sunday, thousands of protesters occupied the two footbridges connecting the Hung Hom MTR station and the Polytechnic University. At 5:30pm, several armored vehicles and a water cannon truck were deployed while protesters threw petrol bombs.

At around 7pm Sunday, protesters burned debris on one bridge and retreated into the university. People on another footbridge also retreated in the evening. However, police surrounded the campus and patrolled at all its exits.

The police announced that the university had become a crime site. Only journalists with media passes could leave while all others were to be arrested.

At 9pm, police said they would allow people to leave the campus in one exit before they escalated their actions. About 50 people walked out from the University but they were arrested by the police immediately.

Dozens of first aid providers and local residents were arrested on the streets in Tsim Sha Tsui. Reporters were forced by the police to stop recording.

Thousands of Hong Kong people had tried to get close to PolyU but were shot with tear gas canisters and pepper balls.

A person who stayed overnight on the campus told Asia Times that there were several hundred protesters inside. He said many of them felt depressed as there were only limited amounts of food and medical resources on the campus.

Over a one day period, the number of arrested people in Hung Hom district reached nearly 600.

At 5:30am Monday, police entered the campus and arrested some people, including some medical staff. They later denied that they had entered the university.

Shortly after the operation, Teng Jin-guang, vice chancellor of PolyU, in a video urged people inside the campus to peacefully walk out and surrender.

Owan Li, a student representative on PolyU‘s university council, criticized Teng for doing nothing to rescue the people in the campus. He said at least three people had been shot in their eyes with rubber bullets and bean bag rounds while about 40 people felt unwell after being shot with water cannon.

Derek Liu Kin-kwan, President of the Student Union of PolyU, urged teachers and alumni to help rescue the 500-600 people who were trapped inside the campus. He said about 60-70% of these people were PolyU students.

Some protesters said in their videos that they had prepared to sacrifice their lives if police charged into the campus.

Standoffs continued on the streets in Tsim Sha Tsui, Jordan and Hung Hom as of Monday afternoon.


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