Campus drama persists as HK gears up for polls

  • China
  • Friday, 22 Nov 2019

Making their point: Candidates and supporters of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong posing for photos near a banner that reads ‘Rebuild Hong Kong’ at a campaign event in a park downtown. — AP

HONG KONG: A small but determined group of protesters remained holed up inside a Hong Kong university campus as the city’s largest pro-Beijing political party urged voters to “kick out the black force” in upcoming elections seen as a key gauge of public support for anti-government protests.

At least a few dozen protesters at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, that has been ringed by police for days, resisted pleas to surrender amid fears of being arrested. They are the holdouts from a much larger group that occupied the campus after battling police over the weekend.

Some 1,000 protesters have either surrendered or been stopped while trying to flee.

The city’s largest political party slammed the flare-up in violence in the past week and urged some 4.1 million voters to use the ballot box this Sunday to reject the “black force” that had thrown the semi-autonomous Chinese territory into unprecedented turmoil since June.

“The black force say they want to fight for freedom but now people cannot even express their views freely. We have been stripped of our right to go to school and work,” said Starry Lee, who heads the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong.

The party is contesting 181 of the 452 district council seats, a low-level neighbourhood election held every four years. For the first time ever, all the seats will be contested and a huge win by the pro-democracy bloc could bolster the legitimacy of the protest movement.

Protesters are demanding fully democratic elections and an independent probe into alleged police brutality against demonstrators.

The government, which rejected the demands, has warned the polls could be delayed if violence persists and transport links are disrupted.

Earlier yesterday, there were long lines and delays at some subway stations as some stations remained shut and some protesters tried to block train doors from closing but the disruption was relatively minor.

Lee said the party’s candidates have faced threats and some have even been beaten up but they are ready for a “tough battle” for Hong Kong.

“We believe that if we are united and if everyone comes out to vote, Hong Kong can be restored and violence can be stopped,” she said at a campaign event in a park downtown with dozens of the party’s candidates.

Lee and some candidates kicked black footballs as a symbolic gesture to banish the black-clad protesters. — AP

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Hong Kong , protest


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