Hong Kong police face renewed pressure to end campus siege
Hong Kong: Hong Kong's embattled government faced renewed pressure Wednesday to end a 10-day police siege of a university, as a major tunnel near the campus reopened and search teams found no evidence of any protesters still holding out.
The Polytechnic University said it has decided to halt its search after a sweep of the trash-littered campus for a second straight day failed to find anyone left behind. On Tuesday, one person was found a young woman in weak condition.
Inspection onsite revealed that a great number of facilities on campus, including many laboratories, have been vandalized to various extents, and that some chemicals and dangerous goods are missing, the university said in a statement.
It asked police to retreat so that a cleanup operation can begin. Police had no immediate comment. Hardcore protesters occupied the campus nearly two weeks ago after blocking the Cross-Harbour Tunnel and set toll booths on fire during clashes with police. Some 1,100 protesters have left or were arrested by police. The tunnel, which links Hong Kong Island to the rest of the city, reopened early Wednesday after a two-week closure, to commuters' relief.
Calls for police to end their siege escalated after the pro-democracy camp won a stunning victory in local elections Sunday, delivering a stinging rebuke to city leader Carrie Lam's tough line on the protests, which are in their sixth month.
Lam offered no concessions, saying only that she would accelerate dialogue and look for ways to address societal grievances.
Lam is the goddess of democracy. She has single-handedly motivated and galvanized us to fight for democracy, an activist, who only gave her name as Tham, said mockingly during a Tuesday night rally at the Tsim Sha Tsui district. Tham, who works in South Korea, said in an online livestream of the rally by the Apple Daily newspaper that she had returned to Hong Kong to cast her ballot.
Echoing what many protesters feel, she said the election outcome cannot be viewed as a victory, as the demonstrators' demands including free elections for the city's leader and legislature and a probe into alleged police misconduct have not been met.