Stop hurting journalists!
Over the past three hundred days or so, the police have seen the media as thorns in their side and stings in their eyes, and violence against journalists at the scene has been overwhelming. Last night (10 May), the police further interfered with and attacked journalists, humiliating them at their best. This is outrageous. The Government and the police have repeatedly claimed that they respect the media as the Fourth Estate, but in fact they are resorting to everything possible to suppress it. Today, Hong Kong’s press freedom is at stake. We demand the Commissioner of Police to meet with the media union representatives urgently and to stop the practice from spreading in the Force and to suspend duties of those out of control.
During the dispersal operation in Mong Kok last night, the police not only repeatedly intercepted journalists on duty, but also forced them to read out loud their names, ID numbers and names of the media organizations they serve in front of the police video camera. Police officers also ordered reporters to squat on the ground and barred them from continuing to take photographs and video while pepper-spraying their eyes and ears at close range. There are also reports that a female reporter was choked by the neck for nearly 20 seconds until she lost conscience.
Hong Kong Police Force revised its motto from “We Serve with Pride and Care” to “Serving Hong Kong with Honour, Duty and Loyalty” last year, and claimed to have inherited the values that they had always upheld in the past — including “respecting the personal rights of the citizens”, “handling and treating people with a fair, selfless and considerate attitude”, “taking responsibility and accountability”, etc.
However, the performance of the police officers in the past year, especially the actions of last night, is completely contrary to the values declared above. The police stifled the right to interview by intercepting and attacking, trampling on the dignity of the media with insulting language and bad attitude. That is a complete violation of the stipulations in the Police General Orders that the police must “facilitate the work of news media as much as possible and accord media representatives consideration and courtesy” .
Journalists have always exercised restraint and patience, they ventured through the conflict scenes, braving the storms of shooting and shelling with the sole purpose of reporting the truth. We have absolutely no intention of being an enemy of the police. Police officers should not forget their commitment to serving society with “integrity and honest character” and “professionalism”.
Stop stifling press freedom!
Hong Kong Journalists Association
Hong Kong Press Photographers Association
Independent Commentators Association
Journalism Educators for Press Freedom
Ming Pao Staff Association
Next Media Trade Union
RTHK Programme Staff Union
CitizenNews Trade Union
11 May 2020