Hong Kong Police Seal Off University as Public Fears of Crackdown

By Reuters
November 17, 2019 Updated: November 17, 2019

Hong Kong police on Nov. 18 trapped hundreds of protesters inside a major university, sealing off roads in the area after almost two straight days of standoffs that have raised fears of a bloody showdown with both sides refusing to back down.

Hundreds of defiant protesters inside Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University faced off against a police water cannon and armored vehicles in raging battles that lasted an entire day and through the night.

The protesters at Polytechnic University had blocked one of Hong Kong’s major highways, the Cross Harbor Tunnel linking Hong Kong island to the Kowloon peninsula for much of the past week, with authorities desperate to restore the link yet encountering tenacious resistance from the trapped activists.

Firing of tear gas and water cannons continued through 5 a.m.

As police approached the barricaded front gate of the university in the predawn hours, protesters retreated into the university while starting huge fires at the gate as well as on a footbridge.

Several riot police broke through the main entrance, making a number of arrests.

The campus was a flurry of uncertainty and activity on Monday morning. Some protesters discussed trying to leave, while others carried boxes of petrol bombs to positions around the complex.

Thousands of residents and protesters flocked overnight to various districts around the university including Tsim Sha Tsui, Jordan and Yau Ma Tei, to try to penetrate the riot-police lines to rescue the trapped students.

“If we can only hold on till dawn, more might come,” said one young activist in the university who was close to exhaustion.

An armored police vehicle that was set ablaze by petrol bombs in Sunday’s violence was towed away early on Monday.

Late on Sunday night, police issued an ultimatum for protesters to leave by 10 p.m. via a specified exit.

Reporters on the scene witnessed police intercepting those journalists who wished to leave, saying they needed to verify their identity and ensure that they didn’t participate in protest activities.

Meanwhile, medics and social workers were arrested.

At around 2 a.m. Monday morning, police stopped pro-democracy lawmakers who arrived at the scene from taking away protesters who were willing to leave campus. The lawmakers said they continued to negotiate with the police but to no avail.

Three live shots were fired at around 3:00 a.m, at the junction of Ferry Street and Jordan Road. Police explained that the officers’ lives were “under serious threats” after protesters attacked them in order to rescue a female protester. They said that an “initial inquiry” showed that no one was hit.

By Josh Smith and Marius Zaharia. The Epoch Times contributed to this report.