A number of police officers unreasonably attacked reporters in Mong Kok and Central District yesterday (19/1), including taking away their recording equipment and mobile phones, pushing them down to the ground and pepper-spraying them. A reporter’s personal information was leaked because police deliberately displayed the reporter’s ID card for about a minute in front of the live camera. The Hong Kong Journalists Association has recently reported to the police that some police officers continue to suppress and hurt journalists. The police representatives stated that they respect the freedom of the press and the right to cover news. But they did not deliver on their promises, HKJA is extremely outraged and severely condemns this, urging police management to strengthen restraint on frontline police officers.
All media reported that after the rally in Central District was stopped yesterday, riot police dispersed the crowd, one of the policemen in Chater Garden suddenly knocked down a reporter who was wearing a reflective coat and tried to subdue him. The reporter also wore a gas mask, he showed his credentials when he stood up, and the police turned and left without a word. Later on, some police officers quarrelled with the people, shaking the pepper spray in their hands, and then started to push forward, after which at least three reporters were pushed to the ground.
According to the Stand News, a reporter of the newspaper was intercepted twice by police in Admiralty. During the first interception, a police officer continued to block the shot with the reporter ’s ID card and deliberately pushed the ID card towards the camera, the personal information of the reporter was leaked. The reporter was then intercepted for the second time at the same location. Police officers snatched his live broadcast equipment and mobile phone. The screen of the mobile phone was damaged in the process.
The protesters later moved to other areas, with more serious police-civilian clashes in Mong Kok. While dispersing the crowd, riot police repeatedly pepper-sprayed a group of journalists standing on the sidewalk and retreating. Several reporters walked into a store to wash their eyes, and a riot police officer pulled a female reporter out of the store. When a reporter from RTHK left, a police officer slammed into the lens of his mobile phone with a pepper spray and sprayed the reporter twice at close range. Spokesman of RTHK asked the police to provide a reasonable explanation, stating that the reporter had cooperated with the police’s request to leave, and the police at the scene suddenly pepper-sprayed on the reporter, which was an unreasonable act. The police responded this morning that when police officers displayed the reporter ’s ID card in front of the live camera, the police officer did not know he was a reporter at first and did not know that he was broadcasting live, the police described as “the situation is more chaotic, there are other people near the reporter”, it is ” accidentally shot.”
However, according to the information provided by frontline reporters, the number and time of pepper sprays sprayed by police officers against reporters are completely inconsistent.
HKJA is asking the police to explain the reasons for displaying the reporter ’s personal information in front of the camera, and urges the police to stop all kinds of actions that harm journalists and the freedom of the press in the name of “law enforcement”. We also urge the police to stop using lies to cover up the atrocities of frontline police officers.
Hong Kong Journalists Association
20 January 2020