Tired, cold and hungry radicals holed up at Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University surrendered on Tuesday after the city’s leader Carrie Lam said she hoped the stand-off with police could be brought to a peaceful conclusion.
The two sides have been locked in a violent confrontation since Sunday, with sporadic clashes over the past 24 hours interspersed with those inside making increasingly desperate bids for freedom, reports the South China Morning Post.
Hundreds were evacuated overnight from inside the university campus after politicians and education figures cut deals with police allowing them to leave.
At around 10.00 am, another 50 protesters emerged, with some suffering from hypothermia and leg injuries. Paramedics treated them at a temporary station outside the campus, before they were sent to five city hospitals.
Another group of 50 were treated inside the campus and would be sent to hospital later.
More than 200 students or protesters aged below 18 had already left the campus overnight.
Some 100 adults also left and were arrested. Earlier, some escaped by abseiling off a footbridge to getaway vehicles below.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday she had laid out two principles with police for handling the stand-off, that they were to try resolving the incident peacefully, and treat injured or under-aged protesters in a humanitarian manner.
Lam said about 600 protesters, including 200 aged under 18, had so far left the university since police surrounded the campus on Sunday.
“We will use whatever means to continue to persuade and arrange for these remaining protesters to leave the campus as soon as possible,” she said.
“So this whole operation can end in a peaceful manner and lay the basis for the subsequent work by the police to stop violence in Hong Kong.”
On Monday, areas bordering the campus, especially the main entrance in Cheong Wan Road, became a battleground between radicals and police, said the South China Morning Post.
Officers repeatedly fired rounds of rubber bullets and tear gas, while a water cannon truck sprayed blue dye into the campus.
The university has been occupied for about a week by hard-core elements of the anti-government movement, who have cut off major road links such as the Cross-Harbour Tunnel in Hung Hom, which connects Kowloon and Hong Kong Island.
A police armoured vehicle went up in flames on Sunday from a barrage of petrol bombs thrown by radicals.