Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) and Hong Kong Press Photographers Association (HKPPA) today (September 12) make a joint call for the Government to stop police violence against journalists covering the anti-extradition bill protests.
The Police, they say, should apologise for their increasing attacks, both physical and verbal, against front-line reporters in the past three months.
The two journalists’ groups issued their demands at a joint press conference, which is aimed to counter police accusations against journalists who covered the protests. They include claims that reporters had blocked police operation, with some in “zero distance” with officers, and “fake reporters.”
They demanded Police to stop making unfounded accusations and reiterated their call for an independent investigation into the way Police handled reporters during the protests.
HKJA Chairperson Chris Yeung said in the press conference: “Claims that reporters have obstructed police officers in carrying out their duty have never been substantiated with evidence.”
“They were tactics taken by the Police to justify their abuse of power and violence against journalists. Journalists have not obstructed their enforcement of law; we have monitored their violation of law.”
“There are growing hostilities among the Police Force, at least a sizeable segment of which, towards journalists, as shown in their deeds and words.”
“Press freedom is under threat,” Yeung said.
The two groups said there were a long list of cases showing clearly media footage and pictures of the clashes and arrests have helped the public know the whole truth.
If journalists had been barred from reporting at the protest areas, stories including the undercover police officers among the protesters and the serious head injury of a young student at the Tai Po MTR station would have never been able to see the light, they said.
Responding to Police’s claims that there were “fake reporters,” the two associations have called on the Police to explain what they meant by “fake reporters” and what evidence they have.
HKJA executive committee Lam Yin-pong and a HKPPA representative have given more details of police violence, a case when a number of reporters were pepper sprayed in Mong Kok.
Worse, they said failure of police officers to show their identification numbers made it difficult for reporters to lodge a formal complaint.
The two groups also made an appeal to the public for them not to make harassment, bullying and obstruction the work of journalists in protests, which they say will adversely affect people’s right to know.
The public should not target at journalists from certain media organisations that they feel discontent because of various reasons, they said.
During demonstrations, rallies and clashes between police and protestors, they said members of the public should try to keep a distance from reporters to avoid confusion and misunderstanding.
Hong Kong Journalists Association
12 September 2019