11/12/2019, 08.45
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Tear gas, bullets, hydrants against stones and Molotov’s: scenes of war at the Chinese university of Hong Kong

by Paul Wang

Several clashes lasted hours leaving at least 60 wounded. Vice-Chancellor Rocky Tuan attempts to restore calm. The police say that "it is no longer time to negotiate or dialogue". Msgr. Joseph Ha urgently pleas with police to stop violence; young people to take care.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - The Chinese university in Hong Kong, in Shatin (New Territories) has become a battleground for almost the whole day. Until late in the evening the police fired hundreds of tear gas canisters, rubber bullets and used hydrants with irritating substances against students who in turn threw stones, Molotov cocktails and raised barricades to stop the advance of the police.

Today, many universities have been targeted including the City University, Science and Technology, the Chinese University (Cuhk). For police it is clear that the backbone of the anti-extradition movement - which has now become a movement for democracy and for the dismissal of police - are university students. Statistics from a few months ago showed that 60% of the participants in the demonstrations are young people under the age of 29.

In the early afternoon, the police entered the Cuhk campus and arrested several young people. The police then remained on guard at bridge no. 2, a raised bridge over the highway, accusing the young people of damaging traffic by throwing objects and Molotov cocktails onto the street below.

At 5 pm the vice-chancellor Rocky Tuan (photo 2) arrived at the university and together with other academic figures tried to get students and police to talk. He managed to negotiate a police retreat in exchange for a promise not to have objects thrown off the bridge. The young people also asked that all those arrested in the afternoon be released. But when Tuan was going to the police to communicate the Ok to young people, the policemen began to launch tear gas. A police officer shouted: "This is not the time to negotiate or talk."

Academic personalities swear that in the hours when dialogue was sought, none of the young people threw stones or Molotov cocktails. In the rain of tear gas, Vice-Chancellor Tuan had to take shelter and be taken away. According to initial estimates, at least 60 people were injured.

Thus with this police action it appears to be a final showdown. Even the press conference that the head of the executive Carrie Lam held yesterday, gave no hope, when she said that the idea the executive will answer the movement’s five demands is "wishful thinking".

At around 9 pm there was an urgent emergency message from Msgr. Joseph Ha, auxiliary bishop of Hong Kong, spread via Facebook, in which he urgently asked the police to stop and asked the students to take care of their "security is the most important thing". I am worried and saddened - he added - for what happens this evening. Life is the most precious gift. Nothing is more precious than life ”.

Skirmishes and the rain of bullets and Molotov cocktails have been going on for hours. At 10 this evening the water cannons also came into action. After about 20 minutes, a government statement announced that "to let the situation cool, the police agreed to withdraw". The young people should have kept faith by not throwing objects from the bridge.

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