Thursday 5 December 2019

Police lift blockade after siege around city university

Protesters wave British flags as they gather for a rally outside of the British Consulate in Hong Kong. Image: AP Photo/Vincent Thian
Protesters wave British flags as they gather for a rally outside of the British Consulate in Hong Kong. Image: AP Photo/Vincent Thian

Natalie Lung

Police said they had lifted their blockade on Hong Kong Polytechnic University after officers cleared the campus they had besieged for nearly two weeks amid a violent stand-off with demonstrators.

Chow Yat-ming, the city's assistant police commissioner, said that he believed PolyU could be handed back to university management after dangerous items that remain on campus were removed.

Firemen and a police safety team did a final sweep after searching every level of each building to handle hazardous items and collect evidence the day before.

The police said they seized 3,989 petrol bombs, 1,339 explosive items and 601 bottles of corrosive liquids. Every floor on campus suffered various degrees of vandalism and damage, Mr Chow said.

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PolyU urged the public not to enter the campus as it was still unsafe and will remain closed for repairs. But some people walked around the school after police lifted their cordons.

The protests gripping Hong Kong for the past five months have brought unprecedented battles to the its universities. Several saw extended sieges as demonstrators sought to paralyse parts of the city after the November 8 death of a University of Science and Technology student who had fallen near an area where police were trying to disperse a protest.

PolyU president Teng Jin-Guang said the situation could serve as a lesson for the city.

"I hope the way we've done it, by taking a peaceful approach, could be a lesson we could learn from," he said.

"We can have different political standings, views and perspectives, but we should be able to talk to each other peacefully, express and share our views, exchange our views rationally so we can find the best solution for Hong Kong."

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