Late last night (July 30), a number of protesters gathered outside Kwai Chung Police Station. When the police started dispersing the crowd, some police officers were seen rushing towards a retreating photojournalist and deliberately hit him in the head with riot shield, causing him to fall to the ground. A female reporter was repeatedly chased and beaten by police officers when she was leaving. The police also deployed pepper spray at the reporters on site, and even brandished a shotgun at them. The police’s deliberate attacks on the press is absolutely unacceptable and we strongly condemn such behaviours of the Hong Kong Police Force.
At midnight, a large number of riot police emerged from Kwai Chung Police Station to disperse the protesters. During this period, an Apple Daily photographer retreated from the police cordon line, while clearly explicating his press identity and raised his hands to signal that he was leaving. An officer then used his shield to charge the photographer twice, during the second time he surged from two metres away and clubbed the photographer at the head with his shield. The photographer was hit at and injured his mouth corner, then fell to the ground. Later on, another police officer continually waved his baton to threaten a female reporter from RTHK who was wearing a reflective press vest. The reporter retreated and turned around to indicate her press identity, but the police officer continued chasing and threatening her with his baton until she ran away from the scene in fear.
When several reporters took pictures from a certain distance of a gun-brandishing police officer, the officer deployed pepper spray in multiple directions and deliberately at the reporters onsite, many of whom were splashed. In addition, a reporter from NOW News was pepper sprayed in the eyes during the chaos and was taken to hospital for treatment.
Over weeks of continuous demonstrations and clashes since June, officers were shown to have lost control over their emotions and targeted the press on various occasions. We have issued a number of statements demanding the police to respect press freedom and restrain officers from using hostile means against reporters; however, no improvement can be observed so far and the situation is only getting worse, which is worrisome. We now lodge serious representations to Chief Secretary Mr. Matthew Cheung Kin-chung and Commissioner of Police Mr. Stephen Lo Wai Chung and will seek legal advice on initiating legal proceedings against the Hong Kong Police Force. We also urge the government and the Hong Kong Police Force to address the abuse of power and force of police officers and steer the police force back onto the right track.
Hong Kong Press Photographers Association
Hong Kong Journalists Association
31 July 2019