In the past 24 hours a number of Hong Kong journalists have been assaulted in both Beijing and Hong Kong.
In Beijing reporters were covering the sale of Olympic tickets when an altercation broke out between a few people in the queue. These people subsequently turned their attention on a NOW TV cameraman, demanding that he stop filming the scene.
They then began to attack him.
All this while a Public Security team stood idly by. It was when the cameraman turned his camera on himself while under attack that the police stepped in – to arrest him.
The police hustled him into their patrol car, travelled a short distance before stopping. Then the Public Security team demanded that the cameraman sign a statement to the effect that the police had to intervene because he was involved in the altercation with people in the queue.
The cameraman adamantly refused to sign any statement. Subsequently the police released him.
At about the same time a South China Morning Post cameraman and a Cable News TV cameraman at the scene were also harassed by Public Security officers.
All these police actions are contrary to the promised freedom to report on the Olympics and all other news in China for the duration. They come quickly on the heels of other attempts by Public Security personnel in Beijing to prevent Hong Kong media people from carrying their normal, legitimate rights to gather news in China – in spite of repeated promises by both the authorities and the Beijing Olympic Games Organising Committee of unhindered media coverage for the duration of the Games.
At Sai Kung in Hong Kong early this morning a TVB cameraman was thrown into the sea while filming a man who had fallen into the waters. His assailant was a companion of the man who fell into the sea.
These assaults come at a most sensitive time when the eyes of the world are focussed on China – and Hong Kong. We strongly condemn all these assailants, including the Beijing Public Security personnel for their wanton violation of Press Freedom on the Mainland and in Hong Kong.
We also urge the central authorities and the Hong Kong police to take immediate steps to prevent further assaults on media personnel.
Hong Kong Journalists Association