It is learnt that journalists from at least six Hong Kong media organizations have been placed under escort and ordered out of Lhasa, Tibet, today. The Hong Kong Journalists Association considers this unacceptable and a breach of the ‘Measures for the Reporting Activities in the Mainland Conducted by the Journalists of Hong Kong and Macau during the Beijing Olympic Games and the Preparatory Period’ implemented since January 2007.
According to the new measures, reporters are free to interview people once consent is secured from interviewees. Reporters from Hong Kong covering news in Lhasa to tell the truth to the world are thus acting legally as well as appropriately. It is an implementation of people’s right to know.
Furthermore, the service guidelines issued by the Organising Committee of the Beijing Olympic Games stated that ‘If security issues arise when journalists of Hong Kong and Macau are covering public spots news, they can ask for help from the security or aid officials on the spot.’ Therefore, instead of banning journalists from covering news in Lhasa, the local authorities should provide assistance to journalists to complete their job safely.
The HKJA is concerned that banning Hong Kong reporters from covering news in Tibet will only arouse suspicions in the outside world that the Tibet government is going to cover up certain facts. It will be detrimental to the opening up image of China.
According to human rights experts’ interpretation of freedom of expression guaranteed by International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, human rights are more fragile in a situation of conflict and thus more necessary for journalists to be there to safeguard the observance of human rights by enforcement officers. The presence of journalists to a certain extent promotes the safeguarding human rights.
The HKJA urges the authorities to reconsider the measures and allow journalists to continue with their reporting in Lhasa. It helps not only the world to know the real situation in Lhasa but the building of an open and harmonious society of China.