Citizens gathered in Tseung Kwan O last night (8/2) to commemorate the death of the university student Chow Tsz-lok and opposed the government’s designation of a clinic in the district to receive suspected cases of coronavirus. The incident turned into a clash between police and civilians again. Riot police officers and suspected plainclothes police officers who did not display their warrant cards, rammed reporters and pepper-sprayed reporters who were retreating. For the past eight months or so, the police have declared their respect for press freedom and the rights of reporting on the one hand, but continue to make various acts that impede reporting and violence against the media. HKJA is completely disappointed and extremely indignant, and urges police management to strengthen restraint of frontline police officers.
Someone at the crossroads outside the Sheung Tak car park in Tseung Kwan O blocked the road with debris and damaged traffic lights at 10 pm last night. Subsequently, several suspected plainclothes police officers who did not show their warrant cards took two vehicles to the scene. During the period, police officers pushed down reporters who were conducting reporting. After the reinforcement of riot police, the scope of the blockade continued to expand. Although a number of reporters at the scene always followed police instructions and stepped back, police officers were still using the pepper spray to face the lens directly. Many reporters and photographers were sprayed.
HKJA strongly condemns the police for obstructing and using violence against journalists and demands the police stop arbitrarily doing various actions that harm journalists and undermine the freedom of the press in the name of “law enforcement”, to prevent the bad behaviour from spreading within the police force.
Hong Kong Journalists Association
9 February 2020