In the early morning of 10 June (Monday, Hong Kong police removed roadblocks and dispersed protesters with force at Lung Wo Road. Reporters and photographers from various media organisations at the scene who were covering the protest were unreasonably removed by the police. HKJA made a solemn protest against the police for totally ignoring the safety of journalists and severely trampling on their right to reporting. We urge the police to investigate the incident and provide a satisfactory explanation.
HKJA has also made a request for a meeting the Commissioner of Police, Mr Lo Wai-chung, in order to express the concerns of the media over the use of force and attempts by the police to interrupt the reporting work of journalists. Meanwhile, HKJA expresses regrets about an incident that saw a cameraman being injured by an object being thrown by protesters toward the police. We urge the police to conduct an investigation into the incident.
According to information provided by some journalists who were at the scene, police took action after the protestors occupied Lung Wo Road around 1 am. Riot police with shields and crowd control barriers marched from the Legislative Council to Tamar Park and entered Lung Wo Road. Some reporters were insulted by police officers, who called them “rubbish”. Police used flashlights to stop reporters from shooting and they pushed reporters towards the barriers. The situation was extremely severe and dangerous.
At around 2 a.m., police officers kept marching towards reporters and expelled them unreasonably, ignoring the journalists’ safety. Officers shouted, “reporters have no special privilege”. Police claimed that they suspected reporters were possessing offensive weapons. A reporter had his backpack being searched by officers. The reporter carried a valid press card.
The police soon escalated their action to remove blockages and expel protestors in Lung Wo Road by force at around 4am. They treated reporters with unnecessary force. This is despite the fact that the journalists had presented their press cards and were holding recording devices. The journalists’ safety was put in danger.
The police’s behaviour was relentless, paying no attention at all to journalists’ safety. Moreover, reporters at the scene merely carried out their duty to cover news and had every right to report the police operation. Police officers have no right to drive them away from the scene, nor to stop journalists from covering the news. Their relentless behaviour is a violation of Police General Order Chapter 39, which stipulates that the police should facilitate the work of journalists and should not disrupt their work.
We 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.
HKJA has made a demand for a meeting with the Commissioner of Police, Lo Wai-chung, as soon as possible, to convey our concerns. In view of the fact that many journalists had been given unfair and unreasonable treatment, HKJA will provide assistance to those who want to lodge a formal complaint against the police to the Complaints Against Police Office.
Hong Kong Journalists Association
10 June 2019