Police Commissioner Chris Tang has said there is no deadline for the clearance of Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), which has been occupied by protesters for more than a week.
Dozens of demonstrators have refused to leave the blockaded Hung Hom campus following intense clashes with police, though most have either escaped, voluntarily left or been arrested by officers stationed outside.
Tang said on Friday that the force hoped for a peaceful resolution to the deadlock. “We do not have any deadline,” he said. “We hope that those inside will come out because the conditions are becoming increasingly unsafe.”
Several protesters have said in court that they were beaten up by police while being arrested outside of PolyU. Responding to the claims, Tang said it was not new for arrestees to allege that they had been assaulted by officers.
“Occasionally, those who have committed crimes have accused police of assaulting them. We have a mechanism in place to conduct fair investigations into such allegations,” he said.
Tang said some demonstrators resisting arrest had, occasionally, injured officers. “We need to completely subdue them,” he said.
A front-page report by Apple Daily on Friday claimed that a protester identified as “K” – who managed to escape PolyU’s campus – was prevented from boarding a flight out of Hong Kong.
K went to Hong Kong International Airport with a group of other people who had also been at PolyU, but they were told by airline staff that their names were on a list, and that airport employees had to notify their superiors and police if those listed tried to leave the city.
Another member of the group of protesters attempted to cross immigration but was later arrested.
Asked about the arrest, Tang said the person – who was older than 18 years old – had their personal details recorded upon leaving PolyU and was taken to the hospital afterwards. However, they fled while being taken away in an ambulance.
Tang said that those under the age of 18 would not be arrested immediately upon leaving PolyU, but those who were older would be. Those who were hospitalised after leaving the campus may be apprehended later, he added.
“We believe we have to arrest this person,” Tang said.
Meanwhile, the police commissioner said that officers will be stationed at polling stations for the District Council election on Sunday.
“I believe most people in Hong Kong hope for a peaceful and safe polling day,” he said.
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