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Hong Kong has been rocked by both protests and violent retaliation from police since June.
Starting in response to an extradition bill that would have allowed fugitives to be returned to mainland China, the protests expanded to address China’s increasing crackdown on the region’s autonomy.
Now, things have appeared to reach a tipping point.
Protesters have been occupying Hong Kong Polytechnic University for several days now. Under siege by the police, protesters have been fighting back with gasoline bombs and arrows. Last night, police gave them until 10:00pm to vacate the university, saying that after that they’d start firing live ammunition.
When students attempted to leave, they were met with rubber bullets and tear gas.
The Hong Kong police force made a clarification saying they DID NOT ATTACKED POlY UNIVERSITY— Veron (@VeronicaMLN) November 17, 2019
Thousands and hundreds of tear gas, rubber bullets,sponge bomb attacked poly through out the night, and this is what the Hong Kong police announced! #HongKongProstests pic.twitter.com/hTweR1K2rl
Hong Kong Police asked the students to leave the campus but arrested them right after they have stepped out from the campus. The kids just wanted to go home. #HongKongProstests #HKPoliceBrutality #HKPolice #HKPoliceTerrorists #HongKongPolice #HongKongPoliceTerrorism pic.twitter.com/dXVY54ywUH— Psyche Lam (@LamPsyche) November 17, 2019
Hong Kongers went to social media pleading for help and trying to draw the world’s attention to what was happening.
#HongKongProtesters #HongKongProstests #PolyU— myminhyun (@myminhyun809) November 18, 2019
Please help the hongkonger and student inside polyU！
Many student was Injured and arrested inside poly u
Please push!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/g26rnejRP8
What pops up in your mind when you firstly see the words - "college life"?Perhaps study, society, dating, part-time and roommates?— Stand With Hong Kong🇭🇰 (@ActionsHK) November 17, 2019
👇This is Hong Kong Student's college life.👇
"If not US, then WHO? If not NOW, then WHEN?"#HongKongProstests #StopPoliceBrutality pic.twitter.com/C6YJFEFBiq
Medical staff were detained when they left the university, while social workers who came en masse asking to be allowed in to help were reportedly kept out by the police.
Hundreds of registered social workers holding their pass outside #PolyUHK pledged the #HongKongPoliceTerrorists allowance to enter the uni with humanitarian aids, but #hongkongpolice has not yet permitted #hksoso #HongKongProstests pic.twitter.com/4aRVWf29HZ— Yandy.yu (@yandy_yu) November 18, 2019
Police were even caught on video saying that they wanted a reenactment of Tiananmen Square, the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Beijing, where protesters, mostly students, were massacred by the Chinese military.
People drew additional parallels to Tiananmen Square with the disproportionate violence meted out by police on unarmed and lightly armed protesters.
The standoff is continuing as of press time, with the students inside reporting that they have no food, no water, are about to lose power, and that the police won’t allow them to leave, still firing live rounds as well as rubber bullets and tear gas when people try.
Despite this, a hundred or so students have allegedly managed to escape by rappelling down off the highway.
Other Hong Kong citizens are currently advancing on the university and the police line in an attempt to support and rescue the people trapped inside.
They too face opposition from the police and are on the receiving end of state violence, including water canons.
Here is Hong Kong Prudential Hotel in Nathan Road, TST. The riot Police attack people from two side with the water cannon vehicle. They are all come for rescuing students only!#HKPoliceTerrorism #HongKongProstests #soshongkong pic.twitter.com/xctpGipPOW— mkuuuu (@mkuuuu3) November 18, 2019
Meanwhile the students still inside have put out their last words on Twitter. In it, they state that while they expect to die at the hands of the state, they are calm because history will side with them.
Siobhan Ball is a historian, archivist, and journalist. She also writes for Autostraddle and bi.org