After more than six months of protests, the tension in Hong Kong has escalated into what some witnesses are calling a “war zone”.
On Monday (Nov 18) morning, a fiery stand-off between protesters in Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University and the city’s police crossed the 24-hour mark, with a resolution nowhere in sight.
The siege had begun on Sunday, when police fired large amounts of tear gas and deployed water cannons while radical protesters in the university shot arrows, set fires to footbridges and entrances, threw bricks and flung petrol bombs. One police vehicle went up in flames as a result, Sky News reported.
In addition, one policeman was shot in the left calf by an arrow, South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.
According to SCMP, police briefly stormed the campus at 5.30am in effort to take control, but were met by fire and petrol bombs.
PolyU president Professor Teng Jin-guang later said in a video statement that the university had secured an agreement with police to suspend the use of force “under the condition that if the protesters do not initiate the use of force, the police will not initiate the use of force”.
“In addition, we have also received permission from the police for you to leave the campus peacefully, and I will personally accompany you to the police station to ensure that your case will be fairly processed,” he said.
In a vid speech released less than 20 mins before riot police charging into #POLYU campus, university chief Teng Jinguang said police agreed to cease fire if protesters stopped initiating use of force and urged protesters to surrender themselves. He promised… pic.twitter.com/ihS6qHj1pu
— Xinqi Su 蘇昕琪 (@XinqiSu) November 17, 2019
But according to The Guardian, protesters who tried to leave at 8.30am were met with rounds of tear gas, forcing them to retreat into the campus once more.
In a later tweet, Hong Kong Police Force said that “a large group of masked rioters” had at 8am emerged from the university and “suddenly charged at police cordons, many holding petrol bombs”. Tear gas was fired as a result, it said.
At around 8 AM today (Nov 18), a large group of masked rioters who have been holed up in the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong suddenly charged at Police cordons, many holding petrol bombs.
— Hong Kong Police Force (@hkpoliceforce) November 18, 2019
An acting president of the student union, Ken Woo, was reported by SCMP as saying at 11:46am that over 600 people were still trapped in the university.
At around the same time,the Hong Kong Police Force said in a tweet that people inside the university should “drop their weapons and dangerous items, remove their gas masks” and leave via a specifically chosen exit in “an orderly manner”.
“They should follow police instructions and must not charge at police cordons,” the police added.
To ensure public safety, the Police appeal to everyone inside the Polytechnic University to drop their weapons and dangerous items, remove their gas masks and leave via the top level of Cheong Wan Road South Bridge in an orderly manner.
— Hong Kong Police Force (@hkpoliceforce) November 18, 2019
Police later also confirmed that all protesters, even those who leave the campus, will be arrested.
Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters also gathered in Central and Kowloon’s Tsim Sha Tsui, Yau Ma Tei and Jordan to pressure police to back off on the PolyU campus.
Protesters in Kowloon made barricades and walls using bricks removed from the road, debris and bamboo poles. Police then fired tear gas and sponge grenades to push back protesters, SCMP reported.
Around 100 people have been arrested or detained so far, the report added.
Here are 11 videos and photos posted on social media in the past 24 hours which show the chaos in Hong Kong.
A video widely circulated online shows a crowd approaching an ambulance in Tsim Sha Tsui before quickly dispersing. An unidentified person behind the camera says that live shots were fired.
In another video, supposedly of the same ambulance, protesters can be seen throwing objects at police officers in an ambulance and shouting at them to leave.
Another widely shared video shows the moment a police vehicle caught fire when protesters threw petrol bombs at it to stop it from advancing towards them.
A Reuters reporter shared the following video and said on Twitter that protesters in PolyU had built a fire barricade at the entrance to stop police from storming in.
— Jessie Pang (@JessiePang0125) November 17, 2019
This photo posted by Hong Kong tabloid Apple Daily shows a protester appealing to the US and UK governments to intervene by holding up a placard that simply says “save us”.
Twitter user Joel Christian documented his time trapped at PolyU on Sunday night before reporting that he was finally leaving the campus on Monday morning.
In a video he posted, bricks and debris can be seen strewn across the roads as some small fires continued to burn. Tear gas was also fired as he made his way out.
Final PolyU battle – Going home https://t.co/EItBbgnOo6
— Joel Christian (@2legit2trip) November 18, 2019
Democratic legislative councillor Claudio Mo claimed in a Tweet that the police had also arrested medical personnel who were on site to help.
— Claudia Mo 毛孟靜 (@ClaudiaMCMo) November 18, 2019
This video shared by Reverend Patrick Mahoney, the director of the Christian Defense Coalition, a US Christian group based in Washington, D.C., shows protesters blocking roads with bamboo poles taken from construction scaffolding.
With students in Hong-Kong who are blocking the streets to bring economic pressure on China to ensure democratic freedoms in HK! #StandWithHongKong @Andychanhotin @FreedomHKG @Stand_with_HK @hk_watch @HKWORLDCITY #HongKongProtests @joshuawongcf #Freedom pic.twitter.com/1WwldHRKnC
— Rev. Patrick Mahoney (@revmahoney) November 18, 2019
A video shared by another Reuters correspondent shows protesters going up against tear gas as they try to leave the university.
— James Pomfret (@jamespomfret) November 18, 2019