The universities of Hong Kong have become a battlefield with full-fledged sieges and defense, gyms — medical posts, and equipment — weapons.
The protests in Hong Kong have not stopped for several months, but in mid-November, they were noticeably radicalized. Clashes between police and activists led to the fact that the last 12 November occupied the campuses of the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Over time, the buildings of universities turned into full-fledged “fortresses”: all approaches are closed by barricades, and guards with bows are replaced by them. Government forces have been under siege several times, leading to new battles. On the one hand — arrows and Molotov cocktails, on the other — tear gas and rubber bullets.
CNN calls universities “new centers of the protest movement” in the city. It all started with the frequent raids of police against student activists. As a result, several thousand masked young Hong Kongers first clashed with government forces and then went on a dead defense. Western journalists, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, were let in to show how campuses now live.
The first line of defense is the Mini Stonehenge on the road. Protesters attach structures of three bricks to the asphalt, which should interfere with the passage of armored cars and vehicles with water cannons.
The next lines of defense are hastily made brick walls, plastic trash bags doused with gasoline (to set fire to them at any time), barricades from improvised tools, umbrellas already traditional for Hong Kong. On the towers — sentinels. Protesters arrange checks on bags and clothes at the entrances to the “fortress,” and journalists are forbidden to photograph people with open faces so that they are not identified by the police.
Polytechnic University is well located for defense. It is located on a hill. In fact, one approach leads to it, on the other hand — the forest and mountains. All approaches are visible from campus buildings.
Forts appeared after the collision, which is considered the toughest since the start of the protests. The police released over 1,500 tear gas cylinders on activists; they responded with Molotov cocktails. The battle took place right on the university football field: at some point, the protesters took the gate for defense.
Students believe that they protect themselves and their university. The official position of the authorities – on campuses is the “production base of incendiary weapons and a refuge for criminals.” Several universities have already ended the semester ahead of schedule.
In addition to Molotov cocktails, the protesters have a new “favorite” weapon — sports bows with arrows, as well as darts. This is a university sports equipment that activists took for themselves. The media also reported home-made catapults to launch incendiary mixtures.
Not everyone knows how to handle bows: more experienced protesters train others on soccer fields and near an empty campus pool.
Protesters also use other university infrastructure. In the gyms they sleep, in the canteens they cook and eat. In other rooms make Molotov cocktails. “I didn’t think that I would ever mix chemicals with my own hands. But now I’m here to learn this,” a 19-year-old student at the Polytechnic University told reporters, while the rest were creating incendiary mixtures. Some students are working on making smoke bombs.
Volunteers help the protesters, many of whom are graduates of “fortress” universities. They cook, bring supplies and provide medical assistance.
On November 15, China University protesters left the campus, but the Polytechnic University remained on hold. On November 17, the police launched another assault, again using tear gas. Protesters in response fired at government forces with bows. According to CNN, at least one police officer was injured by an arrow.
The Hong Kong Teacher Union has called on both sides to “show restraint” and stop using weapons that could lead to deaths. But activists are in no hurry to leave the campus. And, it seems, they do not quite understand what to do in the current situation.
“We have no plan. But if we do not exit [from the campus], then the police will not come here. The Polytechnic University is my home,” said a 23-year-old university graduate who is involved in the defense of the“ fortress. ”