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‘Fight for freedom’: Activist urges world leaders to speak up for Hong Kong

Activist Joshua Wong urges world leaders to speak up for Hong Kong
WATCH: Activist Joshua Wong urges world leaders to speak up for Hong Kong as crisis deepens

Activist and politician Joshua Wong is calling on the international community to “recognize the humanitarian crisis” unfolding in Hong Kong as the months-long violent protests continue.

“I urge more and more people, more and more world leaders, they should speak up for the humanitarian crisis [and those] suffering in Hong Kong,” Wong told Global News.

“I hope the world can stand with Hong Kong,” he said. “And fight for freedom.”

READ MORE: Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus burns as protesters, police clash

Wong serves as the secretary-general of the pro-democracy party Demosisto and made headlines in June when he was arrested for protesting.

In October, authorities barred Wong from running in local district council elections.

While the demonstrations do not have a formal leader, Wong has become the face of the movement.

Activist Joshua Wong urges world to stand with Hong Kong’s “fight for freedom”
Activist Joshua Wong urges world to stand with Hong Kong’s “fight for freedom”

The protests began peacefully at the beginning of June. The catalyst was a proposed bill that would allow suspected criminals to be extradited to mainland China.

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Following weeks of protests that debilitated the state, Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam announced the bill was dead. But by the time the proposed legislation was withdrawn in September, the protests had hardened and broadened into a resistance movement against the territory’s government and Beijing.

As tensions mounted, the protests turned violent.

Earlier this month, 22-year-old Chow Tsz-lok, a Hong Kong student, died after falling from the third to the second floor of a parking lot when protesters were being dispersed by police.

Hong Kong police arrest protesters attempting to leave besieged university campus
Hong Kong police arrest protesters attempting to leave besieged university campus

Tsz-lok’s death marked the first in months of rallies and sparked another wave of demonstrations.

Wong says protesters are urging the government to stop the police brutality and set up an independent investigation on police use of violence, and are calling for a free election.

He says the government should be “accountable and responsible” instead of “allowing the escalation of brutal violence.”

“It’s a must to set up the investigation by the government to investigate on police brutality,” he said. “And it’s time to compromise and listen to our voice and to give us back the right to a free election.”

READ MORE: Hong Kong police trap hundreds inside university, seal off roads

Wong says during the summer, he was the only protester targeted by police.

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“But in the previous two days, they have arrested more than 1,400 Hong Kongers,” he said. “And not only protesters, even pastors, doctors, journalists, nurses and first-aiders — all arrested by the regime.”

In the latest round of protests, demonstrators barricaded themselves inside Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University.

Late Sunday night, police surrounded the campus and began moving in after issuing an ultimatum for people to leave the area. The crowd wore raincoats and carried umbrellas to shield themselves from police water cannons.

Cheuk Hau-yip, the commander of Kowloon West district, where Polytechnic University is located, told The Associated Press that at the moment, he doesn’t see “any viable option” for protesters other than “coming out to surrender.”

He said police have the ability and resolve to end the standoff peacefully and that protesters should not “try their luck.”

Hong Kong police threaten to use live bullets
Hong Kong police threaten to use live bullets

In a tweet Monday morning, Wong said “time is running out” for protesters inside the university, who were running out of supplies.

“Listen to urgent cry of protesters in #PolyU! Running out of food & medical supply, starving & injured protesters counting down to confront #hkpolice bullets with bare hands,” he wrote. “Is the world going to witness bloody crackdown w/o stopping ruthless regime?”

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By Monday afternoon it was unclear if any of the protesters had made it out.

READ MORE: Petrol bombs and tear gas — Hong Kong sees fresh clashes between police, protesters

Last week, Lam vowed to “spare no effort” to end the anti-government protests.

“I do not want to go into details, but I just want to make it very clear that we will spare no effort in finding ways and means that could end the violence in Hong Kong as soon as possible,” Lam told reporters.

Lam has also refused to accept the protesters’ demands for political concessions, saying the rioters’ actions have “far exceeded their demands” and calling them “enemies of the people.”

“If there is still any wishful thinking that, by escalating violence, the Hong Kong SAR government will yield to pressure to satisfy the so-called political demands, I am making this statement clear and loud here: That will not happen,” she said.

Hong Kong police fire water cannons at protesters as fires set off, petrol bombs used
Hong Kong police fire water cannons at protesters as fires set off, petrol bombs used

On Saturday, Chinese troops were photographed helping clean up after another round of protests rocked Hong Kong — something Wong has rebuffed as “tactics” and “just a PR show.”

“I just hope to let the world know that no matter if they deploy or send out PLA (People’s Liberation Army) or not, what’s happening in Hong Kong is already far from our imagination,” he said, calling Hong Kong a “police state.”

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In August, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada is “extremely concerned” about the situation in Hong Kong.

“We see the need for de-escalation of tensions. We need to see the local authorities listening to the very serious concerns brought forth by Chinese citizens in their concerns around the decision that the local authorities and Beijing have taken,” he said. “We are calling for peace, for order, for dialogue.”

READ MORE: Yes, there are more protests around the world — and here’s why

The federal government said Monday that it continues to “closely monitor” the situation in Hong Kong and is “seriously concerned by ongoing violence,” according to a statement by Global Affairs Canada.

There are 300,000 Canadians living in Hong Kong, making the situation there “of particular concern for Canada,” said Global Affairs.

“It is crucial that restraint be exercised, violence rejected, and urgent steps taken to de-escalate the situation,” the statement said.

“Engagement in a process of broad-based and inclusive dialogue, involving all key stakeholders, is essential.”

-With files from The Associated Press