Police launched a clearance operation outside Sogo in Causeway Bay last night (1/1), they surrounded and arrested a large number of citizens, during which the riot police continuously intercepted reporters, questioned their identity and expelled them. Later, the police expanded the blockade to nearby streets, making it impossible for the media to view the situation of the detainees. HKJA strongly condemns the police for unlawfully driving away journalists. It is tantamount to a news blockade, which prevents the media from recording and monitoring the law enforcement actions of police officers and directly impacts the bottom line of protecting the freedom of the press sanctioned by the Basic Law.
According to different media reports, a large number of citizens confronted the riot police outside Sogo in Causeway Bay last night; the police asked reporters to line up to check their press card, ID card and HKJA membership card. According to Next Magazine, its photographer was insulted, slammed and kicked by a riot police officers in Wan Chai. He was injured and fell to the ground, during which the police dropped his mobile phone on the ground.
The police have continued to expand the blockade in various streets with tape. The core area of Causeway Bay includes Hennessy Road from Percival Street to Sogo, Percival Street from Causeway Bay Plaza Phase II crossroad to tram station, Lee Garden Road Hysan Place, all came under the police blockade. It is resulted in the media being unable to conduct regular interviews.
HKJA strongly condemns the police for blocking, interfering and acting violently against journalists, especially the unnecessary blockade of conflict scenes, which is equivalent to the conventional blockade methods used by totalitarian governments, preventing the public from knowing the truth through the media. We once again urge the Chief Executive to fulfil her commitment of signing the “Press Freedom Charter” and resolutely defend press freedom.
Hong Kong Journalists Association
2 January 2020