Anxious families wait outside besieged hong Kong campus

Hong Kong (AFP) –


Relatives of some of the young pro-democracy protesters holed up inside a Hong Kong university held anxious vigil Tuesday as police vowed to arrest everyone on the campus.

Around 100 protesters remain barricaded inside Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) surrounded by riot squads who have been besieging them for three days.

One woman, who gave her surname as Cheung, said she had spent last night in a park near a police cordon as she waited for news of her adult son, who she said came to the campus as a first aider.

"I was very, very worried, worried his life could be in danger. He's scared. He's scared about being arrested by the cops," she said.

Demonstrators, who took to the streets in their hundreds of thousands in June over a now-shelved bill that would have allowed extradition to China, are demanding the right to elect their own leaders, as well as an inquiry into alleged police brutality.

Protest tactics morphed in the last 10 days into a "Blossom Everywhere" strategy of disruptive vandalism that has brought much of the transport network to a standstill and shuttered schools.

But the three-day PolyU occupation is the most serious and sustained episode yet.

Another mother, identified by her surname Chung, told the South China Morning Post her 16-year-old daughter was still inside the university, despite assurances that minors would not face any immediate legal action if they surrendered.

"No one can ask her to come out now. She wants to walk out freely, and does not believe the police at all," she told the paper.

"She communicates with me but refuses to listen to me."

Cheung said she just wanted her son to come out safely.

"I believe they won't charge my son, because he's just helping people... He's not one of the people in black, he doesn't have masks at home or any other tools like that, he just came out in jeans, a T-shirt and a windbreaker."

The government, however, has shown no willingness to compromise, with chief executive Carrie Lam saying Tuesday that those inside the campus had no option but to surrender.

The increasingly unpopular police force has vowed to arrest everyone, insisting that they must face the force of the law.

"If the government is giving up on this generation, then what about the next?... Are they giving up on them too?" asked Cheung.

"What would become of Hong Kong then?"