HONG KONG (AP) — About 100 anti-government protesters remained holed up at a Hong Kong university Tuesday, unsure what to do next as food supplies dwindled and a police siege of the campus entered its third day.
Police played a waiting game after 10 days of some of the most intense protests the city has seen in more than five months of often violent unrest.
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. China has taken a tough line on the protests and said that restoring order is the city’s highest priority.
Protesters have left all the universities except Hong Kong Polytechnic, where several hundred barricaded themselves in and fought back police barrages of tear gas and water cannons with gasoline bombs, some launched from rooftop by catapult, and bows and arrows.
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 an overpass to waiting motorcycles, but it didn’t appear that many evaded arrest.
Hong Kong police have fought running battles with protesters trying to break a security cordon around a university in the city, firing teargas both at activists trying to escape the besieged campus and at crowds trying to reach it from outside.
Police have said the demonstrators inside Polytechnic University had no option but to come out and surrender.
The sprawling campus has been occupied by demonstrators since last week, and has become the focus of the most prolonged and tense confrontation between police and protesters in more than five months of unrest in the semi-autonomous city.
Hundreds of protesters, including secondary school students, have been trapped inside for more than 24 hours, after clashes on Sunday during which protesters launched petrol bombs and shot arrows at police, who threatened to use live rounds.
Police said they had allowed Red Cross volunteers into the university to ferry out injured protesters but said the rest had no option but to give themselves up. “Other than coming out to surrender, I don’t see, at the moment, there is a viable option for them,” Cheuk Hau-yip, regional commander of Kowloon West district, told a press conference, adding that police had the ability and resolve to end the standoff peacefully so protesters should not try their luck.
Arrested Hong Kong protesters are being loaded onto trains!
— Joshua Philipp (@JoshJPhilipp) November 18, 2019