Police seige of Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Police arrest students trying to flee the campus. Photo: 阮民安 — Tommy/FB

Protesters set up roadblocks around the Hong Kong Polytechnic University on November 17, initially to prevent the same police attacks as happened at the Chinese University of Hong Kong a week before.

Police attempted to seize control of the main roads and subsequently laid siege to the university, accusing the protesters and students of causing the chaos.

During the clashes over many days, they fired more than 3000 rubber bullets, bean bags (small fabric pillows filled with lead pellets), sponge grenades and tear gas. More than 300 protesters, First Aid responders and journalists were injured and more than 1100 were arrested.

Riot police arrived at about 11am and fired tear gas and rubber bullet at the protesters, who counterattacked with petrol bombs and by throwing bricks. At about 8pm, while an armoured car with long-range acoustic device was charging towards the protesters, they threw petrol bombs at it in an attempt to stop it. The armoured car was eventually forced to stop around 3-4 metres away from the protesters.

At about 9pm, police announced that they had opened one exit at Y-core through which people inside were advised to leave. But the police ambushed and arrested the first batch who took their advice.

The Hong Kong police violated international humanitarian norms by arresting First Aid responders, nurses and doctors.

The next day, November 18, protesters who were still trapped inside the campus were desperate to escape and tried various dangerous way including climbing over fences, fast-roping from a flyover walkway and navigating an underground sewer.

As the police noticed that protesters were escaping, they again fired tear gas.

At around 11pm, a group of protesters was chased by riot police along Nathan Road. As they reached Yau Ma Tei, four police vans and riot police charged at the protesters.

Large numbers were injured, and were arrested and brutally beaten. Police searched areas near the university for protesters, often making violent arrests. Protesters were coerced into lying on the ground facing down while being arrested.

Police also provoked the protesters. In one video post, police blamed the protester for being “rubbish, irresponsible, brainless, dreaming”. They taunted that they would be enjoying hot pot with chilling beer in Shenzhen after work while the protesters would be served up bland white bread.

Some volunteer cooks utilized the campus canteen to make food for the protesters. One said that he would stay and feed the last protester until they all left the campus.

[*Wlam is a Hong Kong student who is currently studying in Sydney. His name has been changed for security reasons.]

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