The riot polices launched clearance operations in multiple districts of Hong Kong from the night of Christmas Eve (24/12) to yesterday morning, they have repeatedly committed inappropriate behaviours against reporters on the scene, including abuse, shoving, kicking, glaring, pepper-spraying etc., even unreasonably ousting reporters, hindering filming. HKJA strongly condemns the police for suppressing journalists in the past few days and hindering press freedom.
According to media reports, netizens launched demonstrations in shopping malls in multiple districts on Christmas Eve. Conflicts broke out and police officers and reporters argued from time to time. During the early hours of yesterday morning, some police officers treated reporters rudely in Mong Kok, constantly using shields to knock or even kick, and illuminated the reporter’s eyes and lens with strong light. Some riot police even cursed that the reporter was rampant and needed to leave immediately, otherwise they may be suspected of “illegal assembly”, and then the police officers fired two tear gas bombs towards reporters.
Last night, the conflict between police and civilians in various districts continued. The police outnumbered the people at Langham Place. Some police officers kept accusing and demanding that journalists and the public submit to body searches. A group of reporters were pepper-sprayed by police as they took photographs on the sidewalk, and several reporters were knocked to the ground. Later, the riot police drove all reporters towards Portland Street, preventing them from filming.
In addition, riot police entered the APM mall in Kwun Tong last night. During the shooting of a reporter, a police officer pushed forward with a long shield and repeatedly accused reporters of “黑記”, and even claimed that “you think there is a fourth right?”
HKJA reiterated that journalists risk their jobs to fulfil their fourth-right duties and to make the truth public. Last month, the government invited Hong Kong Journalists Association, Hong Kong Executives’Association and Hong Kong Press Photographers Association to meet. It confirmed that the journalists’ duty and power to gather news should be affirmed, including that they should not be treated inappropriately by any force. HKJA urges the police to fulfil their commitments and immediately stop obstructing reporters’ work.
Hong Kong Journalists Association
26 December 2019