The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) disagrees with the statement issued by Beijing police over their violent action against a Hong Kong journalist reporting on a human rights lawyer.
Accusing NOW TV cameraman Chui Chun-ming of wrongdoing, the May 18 statement of Beijing Public Security Bureau Dong Cheng branch was misleading in the following aspects.
1. The Bureau’s statement : “The two men did not obey orders when police were inspecting their identities …”
HKJA’s response: Chui and a journalist were interviewing human rights lawyer Xie Yanyi when the police intervened. He holds a valid press permit issued by mainland authorities and had obtained the consent of Xie before the interview. Chui was performing his journalistic duties in accordance with mainland laws. He co-operated with the police when asked to present his credentials, not just once but twice. There is absolutely no question of him not obeying police orders.
2. The Bureau : “… grabbed the identity paper from the police, resisted law enforcement”
HKJA : Though Chui had all along heeded police demands, the police officer refused to return his identity paper while returning that of another journalist. The officer gave no reason. After spending a few minutes pleading for the return of his identification papers, Chui tried to get it back without any success. Throughout the proceedings, he made no physical contact with any officer that could be construed as resisting law enforcement.
3. The Bureau : “Police took away the duo from the scene in accordance with the law…”
HKJA : PRC Police have specific rules restraining the use of handcuffs against citizens. According to Article 8 of The Use of Armament Rules, police officers can use handcuffs, leg irons or other physical restraints only if they suspect criminals may escape, commit suicide or hurt themselves when performing three tasks: (1)arresting criminals or prime suspects; (2) arresting, detaining, force summoning; or (3)other circumstances allowed by law and executive orders.
The violence against Chui has contravened this rule. We demand an explanation from the Bureau on how Chui has fallen into the categories listed above that would justify the violence. Chui was grabbed by the neck, forced onto the floor, handcuffed and led away from the scene. These violent acts were edited out from the police video.
4. The Bureau : “it was later confirmed that one of those is a Hong Kong journalist,..”
HKJA : The case arose when police refused to return Chui’s press permit. It is utterly unconvincing for the police to say Chui’s journalist identity was only confirmed at a later stage.
5. The Bureau : “Chui admitted to inappropriate behavior and left after being censured…”
HKJA : Chui stated that he was forced to sign the letter of repentance after the officers threatened to revoke his press permit. He was not allowed to make phone calls. To any incoming phone call, Chui was ordered to answer in Putonghua.
6. The Bureau : “respect news media reporting and protect legal rights of the reporting process in accordance with the law.”
HKJA : Chui was not the only one harrassed. Other journalists at the scene were pushed and expelled by various men who claimed to be “ordinary folks”. Uniformed police officers present did not do anything to protect journalists from them.
Press freedom is a cornerstone of any civil society and journalists’ personal safety and their legitimate right to report should be protected. We regret the responses of the Chief Executive and various senior Hong Kong Government officials for the nonchalant comments. Their calls on Hong Kong journalists to comply with mainland laws while being uncritical of the culprits is preposterous.
Hong Kong Journalists Association
19 May 2018