The dispute over the revision of the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance continues to rock Hong Kong. The Association has repeatedly demanded the government to fully withdraw the extradition bill, to stop using force against journalists, and to hold an independent probe into the police’s handling of the press. We are extremely enraged and disappointed by the government’s failure to address and respond to our demands over the past months.
Over weeks of continuous demonstrations, police officers often targeted journalists who had clearly identified themselves as members of the press. Time and again, officers obstructed, used violence and even teargas against journalists reporting onsite. We met with the Police Public Relations Branch, issued a number of statements, and held a press rally, but no improvement can be observed. On the other hand, the police continue to project strong flashlight at cameras to obstruct filming; sponge grenades fired by the police hit the helmet of a reporter and left him injured. On various different occasions, officers chased after and beat up reporters. The situation is becoming more and more intense.
As the government continues to ignore the demands of the people, some members of the public have initiated the “August 5th General Strike”. The strike aims to call on the people to express their demands in action and urge the government to respond, so as to steer society back onto the right track as soon as possible.
Journalists are part of society and we share the same feelings. We understand that the media, as the fourth estate, is obliged to monitor the public power. We need to ensure the flow and transparency of information in society and protect the public’s right to know. We believe that journalists will handle emergency reporting and defend the public’s right to know with professionalism and vigour.
According to Article 27 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong residents shall have freedom of speech, of the press and of publication; freedom of association, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration; and the right and freedom to form and join trade unions, and to strike. The protection of the basic freedoms and rights of the people, widely considered as a cornerstone of the success of Hong Kong, should be fully respected and safeguarded by all sectors of society.
The Association calls on media organisations to respect their employees’ rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Basic Law and not to penalise them for taking part in the strike. Any member of the Association or journalist who suffers from unreasonable treatment or discrimination because of their participation in the strike can contact the Association for help.
Hong Kong Journalists Association
3 August 2019