KONFRONTASI-Hong Kong police said they would enter Polytechnic University on Thursday after a two-week siege drove most protesters out, but just before midnight, a masked man emerged and asked them to halt their plan.
Security teams from the university had scoured the maze of buildings at the campus, a focal point in recent weeks of the citywide protests that first erupted in June, finding no one.
Yet the protester, who appeared in a black mask, said about 20 people were still hiding. “If the police retreat, we would leave,” he told reporters.
Earlier in the day, District Commander Ho Yun-sing said police planned to enter the campus to “process dangerous items and collect evidence” and that any remaining protesters would be given medical treatment.
The university on Kowloon peninsula was turned into a battleground in mid-November, when protesters barricaded themselves in and clashed with riot police in a hail of petrol bombs, water cannon and tear gas. About 1,100 people were arrested last week, some while trying to escape.
Riot police sealed off the campus, setting up high plastic barricades and a fence on the perimeter.
The Polytechnic University campus was the last of five that protesters had occupied to use as bases from which to disrupt the city, blocking the nearby Cross-Harbour Tunnel linking Kowloon to Hong Kong Island and other arteries.
The protesters had blocked the tunnel’s mouth, smashed toll booths, lit fires and cemented bricks to the road, but it was reopened early on Wednesday, and Hong Kong television showed a steady flow of vehicles passing through.
Demonstrators are angry at what they see as Beijing’s meddling in the freedoms promised to the former British colony when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
China denies interfering and says it is committed to the “one country, two systems” formula put in place at that time.