Hong Kong’s embattled leader, Carrie Lam, says campus protesters must surrender peacefully and hopes a standoff between police and anti-government protesters at a major university can be resolved peacefully, she said on Tuesday, adding that she had told police to handle it in a humane way.
Lam was speaking after a new chief of police called for citizens’ support to end more than five months of social unrest, with protesters trapped by police for a third day at a university in the Asian financial hub.
About 100 protesters remained holed up at a Hong Kong university on Tuesday as a police siege of the campus entered its third day.
City leader Lam said 600 people had left the Hong Kong Polytechnic campus, including 200 who are under 18 years old.
Police have surrounded the university and are arresting anyone who leaves. Lam said those under 18 would not be immediately arrested but could face charges later.
She said that the other 400 who have left have been arrested.
Now in its fifth month, the Hong Kong protest movement has steadily intensified as local and Beijing authorities harden their positions and refuse to make concessions.
Universities have become the latest battleground for the protesters, who used gasoline bombs and bows and arrows in their fight to keep riot police backed by armored cars and water cannon out of two campuses in the past week.
Lam had said violence roiling the former British colony exceeded protesters’ demands for democracy and described demonstrators as now being the people’s enemy.
Meanwhile, a new Hong Kong police chief Chris Tang took office on Tuesday with a warning that “fake News” was undermining the reputation of his police force.
Tang replaces outgoing Commissioner Stephen Lo amid a fiery standoff with anti-government protesters at a university, and following five months of intensifying protests against the Hong Kong and Chinese governments in the Asian financial hub.