Hong Kong : Police action in universities

 CUHK turns into battleground between protesters and police as clashes rage on across Hong Kong universities

12 November 2019 17:47 by Kris Cheng & Holmes Chan (HKFP)

Riot police stormed the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) on Tuesday 12, firing tear gas and projectiles into the Sha Tin-based campus. Masked protesters wearing all-black had put up roadblocks and thrown bricks as well as petrol bombs.
At around 3pm, university staff tried to negotiate with officers stationed on a footbridge at the edge of the campus, who said that police were willing to move back slightly.
However, riot police charged into the campus at 3:15pm, firing tear gas and other less-lethal projectiles.
The ensuing clashes were among the most relentless in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, as police could be heard firing their weapons continuously for around 15 minutes.
It came as multiple districts have been gripped by two days of unrest, initially as part of a citywide strike which called on students to boycott classes, business owners to close shops and employees to skip work.

The unrest – which has now entered its sixth month – was sparked by a now-withdrawn extradition agreement with mainland China but has evolved into wider calls for democratic reform and accountability for the police handling of the crisis.
Multiple arrests were made as students retreated deeper into CUHK’s campus. Footage shot by the Editorial Board of the City University Student Union showed riot police dragging a limp body of an arrested protester along the ground.

CUHK released a statement in the afternoon announcing the cancellation of all classes on Wednesday for the third day in a row, citing the high risk posed by ongoing clashes on campus as well as the “severe damage” done to university facilities.
“The safety of our students and colleagues is always the University’s top priority,” it read. “The University urges all students and staff members to avoid danger and stay at safe locations. There is no need to travel to work unless safe to do so. All unit heads should exercise flexibility when handling the attendance or punctuality of individual staff members due to traffic problems.”

Speaking at a press conference, Senior Superintendent Kong Wing-cheung said that schools are not considered “private premises” under the Public Order Ordinance, as such officers can enter and make arrests without a warrant.
Kong also said that protesters had thrown over 30 petrol bombs at police in 20 minutes, prompting officers to respond using force.

Clashes at City University

Separately, some protesters blocked a section of Cornwall Street outside the City University’s dormitory on Tuesday morning. At around 7am, protesters threw objects at the police from a footbridge above, and police responded with tear gas.
At around 8am, Now TV footage appeared to show a riot police commander saying that a person’s head was visible, and said: “Hit the head!” Riot police fired a projectile at what appeared to be head level, but it hit an umbrella and fell to the ground.

At the University of Hong Kong (HKU), student protesters threw objects from a footbridge overlooking the HKU MTR station. And at around 4pm, a man was struck by an object thrown from above as he attempted to remove barricades on Pok Fu Lam Road.
Matthew Evans, Dean of Science and Professor of Ecology, appeared on the scene. He spoke to students and invited them back to the campus to engage in a dialogue, but the attempt failed.
“What is happening right now is not sustainable. What happens when the police come, there’s a fight, some people get hurt, some people get arrested, and then tomorrow it’s all over again. Maybe not here, somewhere else,” Evans said.
“I am worried about these guys. These are kids. They are my students, other people’s students, sons and daughters of families, they are kids,” he added.

Several universities suspended all classes since Monday due to the ongoing unrest.

 Hong Kong Police action in universities unlawful

2019-11-12 HKT 18:38

A group of academics from various universities have seriously condemned the police for firing tear gas and arresting students on campuses – saying it is unlawful for officers to enter these areas.

The Scholars’ Alliance for Academic Freedom hit out at the police on Tuesday 12, accusing them of using an unnecessary level of force at the institutions – where students live and should be allowed to gather freely.

It added that the senior management of each university should immediately meet Chief Executive Carrie Lam to speak out against police operations to protect their students.

Listen Chan King-ming talking to RTHK’s Candice Wong https://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1491657-20191112.htm?fbclid=IwAR0ojTJzrXp-fYrxwRCpwSPGr2ZAB12PEHBDphowBOt7p892Ol_nXnzTC0U

Associate professor Chan King-ming from Chinese University said it was wrong for the officers to have cracked down on the students at campuses.
Chan said students called for a strike and in response police surrounded and blocked them.
“It is very shameful to see this situation happening,” he said.
“In my understanding, I don’t think our students were trying to do harm to the general public. They were just gathering in campuses, inside campuses. It’s quite unlawful for the police to crack down on any student gathering.”
Chan told RTHK’s Candice Wong the actions of police could lead to more people joining the protests as graduates of the universities will also now join the protests.
He said all universities in Hong Kong should suspend lectures for at least one week until the situation is resolved.

 Hong Kong police and protesters battle into the night on CUHK campus as university head among those tear-gassed

12 November 2019 23:20 Kris Cheng & Holmes Chan (HKFP)

Fresh clashes broke out at the Chinese University of Hong Kong after nightfall on Tuesday as the school’s top management failed to broker a deal between protesters and police.

After a lull in the afternoon, police fired tear gas shortly before 7:30pm at the No. 2 Bridge – a bridge at the edge of the Sha Tin-based campus which overlooks the Tolo Highway and MTR tracks. Police took the bridge after accusing protesters of throwing objects to obstruct traffic below.
In the ensuing clashes, CUHK Vice-chancellor Rocky Tuan and other senior executives were among those affected by tear gas.
The water cannon truck also made its first appearance at the CUHK campus, firing blue dye liquid at around 10pm.
Riot police earlier stormed the campus and arrested multiple people as protesters created barricades and threw objects as well as petrol bombs. Tuan arrived to negotiate with police representatives and, at around 5pm, the fighting was paused.

Tuan then told students that police were willing to retreat as long as the university arranged security guards and volunteers to help prevent any more cases of objects being thrown from a height.
However, students demanded the release of those arrested in the afternoon, and for police to leave campus premises altogether. Tuan replied that he would visit the arrested students at the police station.
Tuan also agreed to walk to the No. 2 Bridge to discuss the possibility of a full police withdrawal. As Tuan and his staff approached police lines, an officer told them to stop advancing forward.
“Don’t provoke the police. Don’t come over, because there are people following you and you can’t control them,” the officer said over a megaphone.
“The people who are following you have weapons. Vice-chancellor Tuan and university staff, please leave immediately, this is not a time for negotiation or dialogue.”
Police then fired tear gas and photographs showed Tuan being escorted away while pressing a mask to his face.
CUHK lecturer Leung Kai-chi said on Facebook that he was certain that nobody was throwing objects at the police when tear gas was fired. Protesters only threw Molotov cocktails in response to the tear gas, he said.

Multiple protesters were injured at the scene as police fired volleys of tear gas and other projectiles. Much of the area around the bridge was covered by white smoke, lowering visibility for journalists and others at the scene.
Hiding behind makeshift barricades, protesters threw numerous Molotov cocktails and kept pushing forward despite a stream of tear gas. Those injured or felt unwell were quickly moved away by others through a path in the middle of the bridge.

Protesters retook the bridge at around 9:30pm but partly retreated before 10pm after news spread that the water cannon truck was on its way.
At 10:13pm, the government released a statement saying police had agreed with authorities at CUHK to retreat from the school in “pursuit of a peaceful solution to diffuse the situation…”.
“In the meantime, the protestors in CUHK are reminded to refrain from throwing objects onto Tolo Highway and MTR track. Such acts seriously hamper the safety of [the] train system and threaten passengers’ safety,” it read.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Scholars’ Alliance for Academic Freedom condemned the police for using excessive force at tertiary institutions, saying that it was unlawful for officers to enter campus premises.
Chan King-ming, an associate professor at CUHK, said that students were not trying to harm the general public, and instead were just gathering inside the campus.

The unrest, which has now entered its sixth month, was sparked by a now-withdrawn extradition bill which would have enabled fugitive transfers to mainland China but has evolved into wider calls for democratic reform and accountability for the police handling of the crisis.

 Police arranging retreat from Chinese University

2019-11-12 HKT 23:41

Police put out a statement late on Tuesday 12 evening saying they were looking for a peaceful solution to the huge confrontation between them and students at Chinese University and that they were communicating with the school.

They said they were arranging a retreat to stop the stand-off. But they called on the protesters to stop charging and throwing objects onto Tolo Highway and a nearby MTR track.

But the announcement came across as something of a Parthian shot, as it was made just minutes after the police had deployed water-cannon on students who had gathered at one end of the bridge across the highway.
The water cannon then retreated and students ran onto the bridge and threw objects onto the highway.

About an hour later, police released a second statement saying the force and the university had reached a consensus in search for a peaceful solution.
But they criticised the students, saying they had thrown bricks, petrol bombs, “launched” arrows and even fired a signal flare at police officers.

They said hard objects and petrol bombs had been thrown onto Tolo Highway, endangering road users. Police also said emergency, including ambulances, had been hampered.
But the situation did appear to be easing as midnight approached.

Earlier in the day, the campus had resembled a war-zone with burning barricades and shrubs, and clouds of tear gas.
Police had turned up at the university after students began throwing objects onto the highway on Tuesday morning at the beginning of a second day of action.