November 15, 2019
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Hong Kong Protestors Demand Elections  11/15 06:53

   HONG KONG (AP) -- Many of the protesters who had barricaded themselves in a 
Hong Kong university this week began to leave Friday after temporarily clearing 
a road they had blocked and demanding that the government commit to going ahead 
with local elections on Nov. 24.

   It wasn't immediately clear why the protesters at the Chinese University of 
Hong Kong were leaving, or where they might go next. Some remained but in much 
smaller numbers.

   The university's president, Rocky Tuan, urged everyone to leave, saying the 
situation was out of control and that the university may need to seek 
government help.

   In the morning, the protesters cleared one lane in each direction on Tolo 
Highway and gave the government 24 hours to agree to their demand. After the 
deadline expired, they blocked the road again.

   "In the face of the inconvenience we have caused to the elderly and other 
young people, we have decided to take the initiative to show our goodwill," one 
masked protester said before the lanes were cleared. "We would like to 
re-iterate that our target is the government."

   Workers sent in to clean up remaining debris and set up traffic cones were 
heckled by protesters, who pointed bows and arrows at them, government 
officials said, but the two lanes were re-opened around midday.

   The district council elections are seen as a barometer of public sentiment 
in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory, which has been riven by 
anti-government protests for more than five months. Pro-democracy activists say 
the government may use the escalating violence as a reason to cancel the 

   Patrick Nip, the secretary for constitutional affairs, said the government 
hasn't changed its decision to hold the vote.

   "We are all worried as to whether the election can be held in a safe 
manner," he said at a news conference. "If we want to hold an orderly election 
it takes the whole society to chip in so we can lower the risk."

   The police, meanwhile, said they would investigate the death of a 
70-year-old man who was hit in the head by a brick as a murder case.

   The man, who was using his phone to film a skirmish between protesters and 
others trying to clear a street earlier this week, died Thursday night. The 
Hong Kong government expressed outrage over what it called "the malicious acts 
of the rioters."

   In London, the Chinese Embassy said that Hong Kong Justice Secretary Teresa 
Cheng was pushed to the ground by activists who were following her and shouting 
at her, injuring her hand. It wasn't clear if she was pushed or fell in the 

   "We express strong indignation and unequivocally condemn the activists," the 
embassy said in a statement. "Now, they are taking such violence abroad and 
into the U.K."

   Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam called the attack "barbaric" and said it 
violated the principles of a civilized society.

   Asked about the incident, Metropolitan Police in London said they are 
investigating an allegation of assault of a woman who was taken to the hospital 
with an arm injury.

   Students and other protesters have taken over major campuses in Hong Kong 
this week, building barricades and stockpiling gasoline bombs and other weapons.

   In Taiwan, civic and religious groups protested outside Hong Kong's 
representative office, calling for an end to what they said were abuses against 
anti-government protesters in the territory.

   Cheng Ying-er, a pastor in the Presbyterian church that has long been active 
on pro-democracy issues, said the situation in Hong Kong was a matter of 
"religious values and human rights."

   "Taiwan stands with you all," he told those gathered outside the Hong Kong 
Economic, Trade and Cultural Office in Taipei.

   Taiwanese lawyers have formed a pro-bono committee to help any Hong Kong 
residents who want to seek refuge in Taiwan, said Lin Chun-hung, a member of 
the group.

   "Our lawyers will provide them with assistance so that they can stay here," 
he said.

   Many in Taiwan have come out strongly against the crackdown on the Hong Kong 
protest movement.

   Taiwan underwent a largely peaceful transition to full democracy in recent 
decades and has rejected China's proposal of unification with the mainland 
under the same "one country, two systems" formula implemented in Hong Kong.


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