The two-week police siege of Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University ended on Thursday as police entered the campus after a hundred-member search party of university staffers determined there were no protesters remaining inside.
The university search team found one protester during their sweep on Tuesday night, an 18-year-old woman who was reportedly found lying next to a sofa and suffering from “physical and mental” problems. The university administration described her condition as “okay but a bit touchy” after she was placed in the care of Red Cross medics.
The police announced they would send in a team of “negotiators, bomb disposal officers, media liaison officers, social workers and clinical psychologists,” plus fire and rescue personnel, but no riot police. The team’s mission was to search for “dangerous items and offensive weapons” while determining the extent of damage to the university.
“Our ultimate goal is to restore the safety of the campus and to reopen the campus as soon as possible. It is our responsibility to handle all the dangerous items found inside the campus, and to finish gathering evidence, before handing over the school to the management,” explained police district commander Ho Yun-sing.
Ho added that in the event any protesters managed to evade the university staff search party and are still hiding on campus, they would be encouraged to seek medical attention but would not be arrested, in accordance with an agreement negotiated by school administrators.
The university urged police to remove the blockade around the school as quickly as possible and said there was no reason for the police to search the campus, although the PolyU statement added that government assistance to dispose of dangerous materials, such as gasoline bombs, left behind by the protesters would be appreciated.
A pro-democracy legislator named Ted Hui gave a press conference on Wednesday asking the police to stay off campus for a little longer, giving any protesters in hiding a chance to leave voluntarily without a confrontation.
According to police representatives, about 1,100 people were arrested while trying to flee the PolyU campus. Some 300 of the protesters were under the age of 18. University officials said only 40 of the protesters arrested by police were enrolled as students at PolyU.