Hong Kong Poly University sends search parties to look for remaining protesters

A team including university management, security guards, counsellors and the Hong Kong Red Cross searching for any remaining protesters hiding at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University on Nov 26, 2019. PHOTO: AFP
Police officers are seen inside the campus of the Polytechnic University in Hong Kong, on Nov 25, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - A Hong Kong university surrounded by police for 10 days sent in search teams to look for the remaining protesters who barricaded themselves inside.

Hong Kong Polytechnic University was sending some 50 people divided into six teams to find protesters who are still on the campus, it said in a statement on Tuesday (Nov 26).

The group includes university staff, counsellors, medical staff, social workers and security personnel, it said.

At a morning briefing, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that a "relatively small number of people" remained on campus and called for them to leave as soon as possible, without giving a concrete figure.

Police are setting up a work panel whose aim will be to persuade the last protesters to go and they will only enter PolyU's campus "at appropriate times", she added.

"Police have adopted a humanity-oriented approach with flexibility to deal with PolyU issue so far. Our goal is to solve the problem in a peaceful way," she said.

Hong Kong police said on Tuesday that police are in close communication with the university and would stick to the principles of "peaceful method" and "flexible approach" to solve the situation.

Police won't arrest those with medical needs immediately but will take down their personal details, photograph them and follow up later.

"For those who leave the campus and do not have medical needs, the police will enforce the law following existing mechanism(s) and re-emphasise that they are guaranteed fair treatment," the police force said in a tweet.

University president Teng Jin-guang told reporters last Wednesday that some 100 protesters remained on the campus, 20 of whom were PolyU students.

The siege at the Kowloon university initially raised fears of a crackdown on the scores of protesters trapped inside. Jarring images from the school showed fires, clouds of tear gas and flaming vehicles amid running battles between police and protesters.

It came amid chaos that paralysed parts of the city as protesters disrupted morning commutes and police fired tear gas in the central financial district.

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