Volunteer medical workers gather up supplies inside Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. About 100 anti-government protesters remained holed up at a Hong Kong university Tuesday, their choices dwindling along with their food supplies as they braced for the endgame in a police siege of the campus that entered its third day. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

Volunteer medical workers gather up supplies inside Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. About 100 anti-government protesters remained holed up at a Hong Kong university Tuesday, their choices dwindling along with their food supplies as they braced for the endgame in a police siege of the campus that entered its third day. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

Police surround last holdouts at Hong Kong university

About 600 had left by Tuesday morning, city leader Carrie Lam said, leaving an estimated 100 still inside

About 100 anti-government protesters remained holed up at a Hong Kong university Tuesday, their choices dwindling along with their food supplies as they braced for the endgame in a police siege of the campus that entered its third day.

Police were waiting them out after 10 days of some of the most intense protests the city has seen in more than five months of often-violent unrest gripping the semi-autonomous Chinese city. Over the past day, more than 1,000 people were arrested and hundreds of injured treated at hospitals, authorities said.

The government has stood firm, rejecting most of the protesters’ demands, even as they shut down major roads and trains during rush hour every day last week, turned several university campuses into fortresses and blocked a major road tunnel, which remained shut Tuesday.

In Beijing, the National People’s Congress criticized the high court in Hong Kong for striking down a ban on wearing face masks at the protests, in a decree that has potentially ominous implications for Hong Kong’s vaunted rule of law and independent judiciary. China’s Communist leaders have taken a tough line on the protests and said that restoring order is the city’s highest priority.

Meanwhile, pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong was barred from leaving Hong Kong to go on a European speaking tour, after a court refused to change his bail conditions to let him travel.

Protesters have left all the universities except Hong Kong Polytechnic, where several hundred barricaded themselves and fought back police barrages of tear gas and water cannons with gasoline bombs, some launched from rooftop by catapult, and bows and arrows.

READ MORE: Hong Kong police storm university held by protesters

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 said they intercepted 37, including the drivers, who were arrested for “assisting offenders.”

About 600 had left by Tuesday morning, city leader Carrie Lam said, leaving an estimated 100 still inside. They milled about in small groups. They still had boxes of homemade gasoline bombs, but the mood was grim in the trash-strewn plazas, in contrast to the excitement as they prepared to take on police just a few days earlier.

One protester said he had no plan and was waiting for someone to come to help. Another said he wants to leave safely but without being charged. They would not give their full names out of fear of arrest.

“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 told reporters after a weekly meeting with advisers.

Even as the latest bout of violence winds down, a fundamental divide suggests the protests are far from over.

City leaders say the violence must stop before meaningful dialogue can begin. The protesters say they need to keep escalating the violence to get the government to accept their demands.

The protests took off in June over a proposed extradition bill that would have allowed suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial. Activists saw the legislation as part of a continuing erosion of rights and freedoms that Hong Kong was promised it could keep when Britain returned its former colony to China in 1997.

READ MORE: Canadian universities encourage exchange students in Hong Kong to head home

Lam withdrew the bill after a few months, but protesters now want an independent investigation into police suppression of the demonstrations and fully democratic elections, among other demands.

About 200 of the 600 people who left Polytechnic were under 18 years old. The city agreed not to arrest them immediately, but Lam said they could face charges later.

Family members and teachers arrived sporadically Tuesday to pick up a few remaining protesters under 18, hugging their children before walking back to a police checkpoint where officers recorded names and other information before letting them go.

An ambulance team was allowed in to treat injured protesters, wrapping them in emergency blankets to keep them warm. Some left with the team, but others stayed, saying they didn’t want to be arrested.

Other parents, holding a news conference, said their children dare not surrender because the government has labeled them as rioters even though some had just gotten trapped by the police siege.

They wore masks and refused to give their names, a sign of the fear that has developed in what has become a highly polarized city.

China hinted it might overrule the Hong Kong high court ruling that struck down a ban on face masks that was aimed at preventing protesters from hiding their identity and evading arrest.

A statement from the National People’s Congress’ Legislative Affairs Commission said the decision doesn’t 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. The announcement threatens to undercut Hong Kong’s rule of law and independent courts — major selling points for its role as an Asian financial centre.

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

The Japanese government said one of its citizens had been arrested near the Polytechnic campus. Japanese media identified him as Hikaru Ida, a student at Tokyo University of Agriculture. Officials did not say why he was arrested.

More than 1,100 people were arrested in the past day for offences including rioting and possession of offensive weapons, police said at a daily press briefing. They found more than 3,900 gasoline bombs at another university campus that was the site last week of a violent standoff. Some 235 people were treated on Tuesday for protest-related injuries, according to hospital authority figures.

Hong Kong also got a new police chief, Chris Tang, who said his priorities would include rebutting accusations against police that he called “fake news” and reassuring the public about the force’s mission.

“We have to maintain the law and order in Hong Kong and there is a massive scale of breaking of law in Hong Kong and there is a certain sector of the community that also condones those illegal activities,” he told journalists.

Tang replaces a retiring chief and was approved by Beijing after being nominated by Lam’s government.

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.

___

Associated Press journalists Alice Fung and Dake Kang contributed to this report.

Ken Moritsugu And Andi Jatmiko, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

The COVID-19 outbreak at the two Coastal GasLink workforce lodges has officially been declared over. (Lakes District News file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Coastal GasLink worksites declared over

In total, 56 cases were associated with the outbreak in the Burns Lake and Nechako LHAs

The Nisga’a Valley Health Authority reported an isolated cluster of COVID-19 cases among non-direct care staff at the New Aiyansh Health Centre. (Gary Fiegehen/Nisga’a Lisims Government)
New Aiyansh Health Centre experiencing COVID-19 cluster among non-direct care staff

Nisga’a Valley Health Authority asking residents to cancel appointments outside the Nass Valley

A photo of the CervixCheck at-home test kit, developed by Eve Medical. (Submitted Photo/Katina Pollard, Métis Nation British Columbia)
Pilot project puts cancer screening into the hands of northwest B.C. women

Métis women experience barriers to cervical cancer screening

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Most Read