In the early morning of 15 October (today) police removed roadblocks and dispersed protesters with force on Lung Wo Road. Reporters and photographers from SocREC and several local media organisations at the scene who were covering the protest, were removed by the police for no valid reasons. Worse, these journalists were forcibly manhandled.
Six press unions, namely the Hong Kong Journalists Association, the Hong Kong Press Photographers Association, the Independent Commentators Association, the Next Media Trade Union, the RTHK Programme Staff Union and the Ming Pao Staff Association, are jointly complaining against the police for completely ignoring the safety of the journalists and severely trampling on their freedom to cover news during the police operation. The six unions urge the police to investigate the incident and provide a satisfying explanation.
At 4 a.m., Oct 15, the police removed roadblocks and protesters with force on Lung Wo Road. During their operation, journalists from SocREC and several local media organisations at the scene, reporters and press photographers included, were treated with unnecessary force by the police. Journalists were attacked by the police despite presenting their press cards and holding recording devices. Also, photographers standing on the pavement of Lung Wo Road were pulled and dragged by police officers wearing vests with the word “police” on them. The journalists’ safety was put in danger.
The six unions note that the police’s behaviour was relentless, paying no attention at all to the journalists’ safety. Moreover, reporters at the scene merely carried out their duty to cover news and had every right to report on the police action. Police officers have no right to drive them away from the scene, nor to stop journalists from covering the news. Their relentless behaviour violates a Police General Order that there should be mutual understanding between the police officers and journalists at the scene and that the police should facilitate the work of journalists and should not disrupt their work.
The six press unions protest such action on the part of the police and urge the authorities to look into the incident, provide a satisfactory explanation and conduct a review. They should ensure that the safety of reporters is safeguarded. The six unions also request Tsang Wai-hung, the Commissioner of Police, and Lai Tung-kwok, the Secretary for Security, to arrange a meeting with them, at which their concerns over the force deployed and the disruption caused by the police during their operations can be expressed.
Hong Kong Journalists Association
Hong Kong Press Photographers Association
Independent Commentators Association
Next Media Trade Union
RTHK Programme Staff Union
Ming Pao Staff Association
15 October 2014