The Hong Kong Police launched a clearance operation at Langham Place in Mong Kok early this morning (27/1) to disperse and surround a large number of citizens. While doing so, the riot police stopped and searched about 30 reporters, not only preventing them from filming, but also driving them to a location more than one hundred metres away from the scene, thus preventing the media from recording and monitoring the police action. HKJA strongly condemns the police for unnecessarily blocking the scene of the conflict and even threatening to arrest the journalists. The relevant methods were similar to a blockade of the press and stifling the freedom of the press.
According to comprehensive media reports, at about 2 am today, riot police pointed out that citizens on Portland Street had been dispelled for “illegal assembly”. A total of about 200 journalists, volunteer first aiders and citizens were intercepted by the riot police.
While the riot police intercepted the reporters, photographic shooting was strictly forbidden. Police officers claimed that they had the opportunity to take pictures of other people’s ID cards and other personal information, they even threatened reporters with arrest if they continued to shoot. Subsequently, the police drove the reporters to Argyle Street, more than 100 metres from the scene.
Besides, a female NBC reporter reported that a riot police officer rudely abused her outside Langham Place car park. The reporter asked the police to hand in the police officer number but was unsuccessful. Instead, the police officer directly pepper-sprayed her face.
HKJA strongly condemns the police for obstructing, interfering with, and even suspected indecent assaults on journalists, the police should explain the reasons for prohibiting the media from filming law enforcement actions, and on what legal grounds are they “arresting” journalists who legally conduct reporting activities in public place? HKJA urges government and police leaders to keep in mind that freedom of the press is an important cornerstone of Hong Kong and must not be shaken.
Hong Kong Journalists Association
27 January 2020