It appears that the police tried to intervene on the campus on the Kowloon Peninsula, but that it was repulsed by the demonstrators determined to hold their positions.
New escalation of tensions in Hong Kong. Demonstrators taking part in the pro-democracy protest burned the entrance to the Hong Kong campus on Monday, November 18, in order to prevent police intervention. The security forces are threatening to respond with “real bullets” the “lethal weapons” protesters, after a policeman was wounded on Sunday by an arrow shot by a protester.
Several loud explosions sounded on Monday at dawn, before a wall of flames appeared at the entrance of the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong (PolyU), now the bastion of the dispute. It appears that the police tried to intervene on the campus on the Kowloon Peninsula, but that it was repulsed by the demonstrators determined to hold their positions. Police say they fired three bullets in the early morning near the university, noting that no one had been injured.
China has repeatedly warned that it will not tolerate dissent, and concern is mounting in the former British colony, facing the possibility of Chinese intervention to end this challenge. The prodemocracy movement, which began in June, has reached new heights of violence in recent days.
The campus and the nearby entrance to the Cross Harbor Tunnel – one of three road tunnels serving the island of Hong Kong, blocked since Tuesday – were the scene of clashes all night, while a call to “defend the PolyU” had been launched. A police armored vehicle was set on fire by Molotov cocktails, as security forces tried to regain control of a bridge bridge spanning the tunnels toll stations.
On the edge of the campus, protesters protected themselves with umbrellas from the powerful jets of water from the police's water cannons. Law enforcement officials described the campus as a “riot zone”, with riots being punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The police blocked his access, while his spokesman, Louis Lau, sent a strong warning on Facebook.
“I ask the rioters here not to use Molotov cocktails, arrows, cars or lethal weapons to attack the police.”, he said. “If they pursued such dangerous actions, we would have no choice but to use the minimum force necessary, including live ammunition, to fight back.”.
On Monday, protesters entrenched on campus feared the onslaught. “I'm scared, there's no way out, all I can do is fight to the end”, said an activist. Owen Li, a PolyU board member and student, said the panic had taken hold of the few hundred campus occupants. “Many friends feel helpless (…) We call the whole society to go out and help us”he said.
AFP journalists observed that demonstrators trying to leave the campus were sometimes greeted with tear gas and forced to return to university. PolyU President Teng Jinguang, however, broadcast a video message saying he received police guarantees. “We received assurances from the police that you could leave the campus peacefully”, he said. “I will personally accompany you to the police force to ensure that your case is handled fairly”.
The protesters want to continue Monday blockades, for “strangle the economy” one of the world's leading financial hubs, now in recession.