As police fired tear gas near Polytechnic University on Monday morning, despite a ceasefire agreement, the students' union warned that hundreds of people were still stuck on the besieged campus – a lot of them badly injured.
The situation has remained tense despite the head of the institution, Teng Jin-Guang, announcing he had struck a deal with police officers for a ceasefire, on the condition that the protesters stopped their attacks.
Professor Teng said he hoped protesters would accept the proposed temporary suspension of force and leave the campus in a peaceful manner.
But when a large group of students attempted to leave along Science Museum Road just before 8am, officers shot multiple tear gas rounds at them, forcing a retreat back inside.
The same also happened to another group on Austin Road.
The acting president of the PolyU student union, Ken Woo, told RTHK during a radio programme that around 70-100 student protesters had attempted to leave the campus, but were forced to retreat due to the tear gas attacks.
He said there are still at least 500 people trapped inside the university campus, adding that while fresh water is still available, other supplies such as food are quickly running out. He added that many of the demonstrators are badly injured and suffering from hypothermia following the multiple bursts of police water cannon since Sunday.
Woo said despite the deteriorating situation, many of the protesters have decided to stay put, saying there’s no reason for them to leave campus if they are going to be arrested by police anyway.
He described the university president’s response to the standoff as coming "way too late", saying Teng should have intervened much earlier to protect the university and its people.
Woo added that it is unreasonable for police to arrest protesters if they are willing to leave the campus peacefully.
Meanwhile, even though the Police Public Relations Bureau had told media organisations that they could arrange for reporters to take over from their colleagues stationed inside the university campus, officers on the ground apparently refused to allow that to happen.
When several reporters, including two from RTHK, arrived at a designated location to conduct a swap, riot police pointed their guns at the journalists demanding that they leave the scene right away.
They also ordered RTHK reporters to stop filming with their cameras, saying they would be arrested for rioting if they did not leave immediately.
Hundreds still trapped in PolyU: students' union
2019-11-18 HKT 11:39
The protesters tried to leave the Polytechnic University campus by climbing over the fences. Photo: RTHK
Police fired multiple rounds of tear gas towards the protesters, forcing many of them to retreat. Photo: RTHK
Police pointed their guns at an RTHK reporter as she tried to conduct a duty swap with another colleague who had been covering the unrest at the university. Photo: RTHK
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