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HKJA condemns police action against demonstrators

(HKJA/IFEX) - 13 July 2011 - The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) condemns the actions of police on 1 July 2011, when at least 19 Hong Kong reporters were pepper-sprayed during a huge demonstration against the Hong Kong government. At least two reporters were sprayed directly in the face at close range. One intern reporter working for a New York-based TV station was arrested.

The police action came at the end of the second biggest demonstration since 2003. This year's protest focused on the rapid erosion of the right to freedom of expression of the people of Hong Kong, with the government specifically planning to remove the people's right to express their choice of candidates in by-elections to replace legislators who resign or die in office. This move has angered the people of Hong Kong and garnered disapproval from the Central Authorities in Beijing.

As the massive event drew to a close, police suddenly moved in from different directions to trap one particular section of the demonstrators. Many reporters were caught between police and demonstrators, with no means of escape, and were swiftly disabled by the pepper spray fired at close range.

The HKJA has lodged a strong protest with the police. We have also pressed the police to drop all charges against the intern reporter. But, to this day, no satisfactory explanation or justification for the police actions have been given by either the police or the government.

We shall continue to demand an explanation from the police and the government, along with demands for assurances that such brutal action against journalists will not be repeated.

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