Hong Kong leader: About 100 campus protesters must surrender

Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday (Nov 19) that protesters occupying Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) had to surrender if the three-day stand-off was to be resolved peacefully.
November 19, 2019 | 11:11
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Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam addresses the media on Nov 19, 2019. Image: Reuters

In her first public comments on the siege at PolyU, Carrie Lam said she believed around 100 people remained at the campus, surrounded by police who were trying to quell the unrest.

"This objective could only be achieved with the full cooperation of the protesters, including of course the rioters that they have to stop violence, give up the weapons and come out peacefully and take the instructions from the police," she told a press conference.

The government is "extremely worried about the dangerous situation" at PolyU, Lam said.

About 200 of the protesters who have left the campus are under the age of 18, and they should be treated in a “very humanitarian way”, she added.

Dozens of protesters on Monday (Nov 18) escaped a police siege at the university by shimmying down ropes from a bridge to waiting motorbikes.

In an apparently coordinated effort, thousands of Hong Kongers streamed towards the PolyU campus to break the siege, as clashes simultaneously raged with police nearby in Kowloon.

A new phase of violence and drama began last week and has led to chaos throughout the semi-autonomous city of 7.5 million people, with schools closed, train lines disrupted and major roads blocked by barricades.

Lam's remarks came as China's top legislature said Hong Kong courts have no power to rule on the constitutionality of legislation under the city's Basic Law, which includes a proposed ban on face masks, state news agency Xinhua reported.

Hong Kong's High Court ruled on Monday that a ban on wearing face masks during public demonstrations was unconstitutional.

The protests began in March but snowballed in June as many Hong Kong residents have opposed an extradition bill which would have allowed defendants charged with serious crimes to be sent for trial abroad, including to courts in mainland China.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam formally withdrew the bill, but the move was unlikely to end months of unrest as it met just one of demands of demonstrators. Protesters are also calling for her to stand down.

About 180,000 foreign students studying at Hong Kong schools. Vietnam has about 50 undergraduate and graduate students.

Vietnam’s Consul General in Hong Kong has helped five Vietnamese students of the Chinese University of Hong Kong return home as violence spreads to universities.

The Vietnamese students flew home Saturday morning, Vietnam News Agency reported on Nov 16./.

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