Frontline reporters have been targeted by police officers for several months, and the news industry has issued statements and written to the police on many occasions asking to stop obstructing reporting, but no improvement has been made. Some reporters launched a silent operation at a police press conference on the 4th of this month, hoping to express their demands in the most peaceful and silent manner. The result was not only unreasonably driven, but the police recently sent a letter to the journalist’s news organisation to complain. HKJA expressed deep regrets over the police’s handling, worried that the authorities intended to spread white terror. It also urged police to restart communication as soon as possible, and once again advises all media organisations not to “settle accounts after the fall” for journalists who dare to maintain freedom of the press.
Mr TSE Chun Chung, CSP (Police Public Relations Branch), wrote a letter to the news agency on behalf of the Commissioner of Police last night (November 6), accusing reporters of the relevant agency who joined the silent campaign during the press conference. The letter further stated that the press conference was cancelled after persuasion failed, and suggested that anyone who was dissatisfied with the police could contact CAPO.
HKJA cannot agree with the police’s letter. Police management has always turned a blind eye to the abuse of violence and even the arbitrary arrest of journalists by frontline police officers, and the police remain unmoved even after the news industry had repeatedly requested meetings. The road to communications was blocked, and the industry had to start a silent operation. They put on helmets and sat in the back of the venue without shouting any slogans or obstructing the recording equipment. Other reporters who did not participate in the operation also stated that the press conference could continue, but the police finally cancelled it. Now the police are writing to complain to the reporters who participated in the action, instead of facing the demands of the industry, no doubt they do not solve the problem but solve the person who raised the problem.
Furthermore, the police proposed in the letter that the media should complain to CAPO. As we all know, most police officers have refused to show their credentials when they are on duty. They also do not display police numbers and cover up their faces with hoods or masks. No matter whether its the public or journalists, they cannot know the identity of the officers.
HKJA deeply regrets that the police cancelled the press conference and suppressed the frontline reporters. We hope that the police and the media will be more understanding of each other, and to jointly safeguard the core values of freedom and the rule of law in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Journalists Association
7 November 2019