Hong Kong police have returned control over the Polytechnic University (PolyU) campus to the school management on Friday noon, ending a siege that has lasted 12 days.
The force issued a statement at 12:44pm saying that it had “removed all dangerous goods and handled scenes of crime” at the university grounds. Earlier, Assistant Commissioner of Police Chow Yat-ming told reporters that work on the Hung Hom campus has “entered its final stages,” and that the school would reopen after all offensive weapons and dangerous items had been safely removed.
“The force is happy to see that the process has been conducted peacefully, and I want to reiterate that we have always followed two main principles, ‘peaceful resolution’ and ‘flexibility,'” Chow said.
“Police have zero tolerance for violence or lawbreaking, and we will continue to investigate this case.”
Hundreds of officers entered the campus on Thursday, saying that their main objectives were to handle offensive weapons and dangerous items, as well as gather evidence related to the extensive damage.
Police said that over a two-day search, they found a total of 3,989 Molotov cocktails, 1,339 items of explosive, 601 bottles of corrosive liquids and 573 items of weapons. On Thursday, police said they found 12 bows, 200 arrows and an air rifle. Protesters were also suspected to have damaged 44 vehicles inside the car park and drained petrol from their tanks.
Officers encountered no protesters during their two-day search and no arrests were made, Chow added. He also dismissed earlier allegations from PolyU hold-outs that some officers disguised themselves as volunteer medics to enter the campus at night.
On Friday, a Fire Services Department (FSD) representative said their operation in PolyU had also concluded. The FSD said the day before that it had found 550 litres of flammable liquid petrol, 20 litres of corrosive liquid and 80 litres of toxic substances in the campus.
Over 1,100 have been arrested in relation to the siege at PolyU, which began on the evening of November 17 when riot police blocked all campus exits and announced that anyone leaving would be arrested for rioting.
Prior to that, masked protesters in black had occupied the university in keeping with a larger plan to mobilise a citywide strike and class boycott.
Tsim Sha Tsui rally
Over 1,000 people gathered near the Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower on Thursday night to condemn the police for laying siege PolyU, and to express support for those holed up inside.
While the event allowed participants to speak on stage, the crowd interrupted the speeches of three masked protesters when they started to divulge details of their stay in the campus.
Some shouted, “We don’t want to know” and “Don’t speak about this” – implying that any public remarks on the siege may incriminate the speakers and those who remained inside. The demonstrators were eventually escorted away as some held umbrellas to block cameras.
Separately, the High Court also rejected a legal challenge against police tactics of cordoning off the PolyU campus. The application was made by Kwok Cheuk-kin, a frequent litigant known as the “king of judicial review.”
Judge Albert Wong said that there was no substantial evidence to suggest that police broke the law when exercising their power during the events at PolyU.
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