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Hong Kong police use force against reporters, demonstrators during pro-democracy rallies

Riot police use pepper spray as they clash with protesters in Hong Kong, 28 September 2014
Riot police use pepper spray as they clash with protesters in Hong Kong, 28 September 2014

REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Update from the International Federation of Journalists: Chinese authorities censor reporting from pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong (1 October 2014)

In a 27 September 2014 statement, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) condemned the police use of force against reporters who were covering pro-democracy rallies.

Numerous reporters on the ground complained that the police disrupted their news collecting activities by using force against them, during police operations to forcibly remove protesters from outside government headquarters. The reporters were pulled here and there or held by their necks by the officers. HKJA expresses regrets and strongly condemns such behavior. HKJA requests that the police follow up on and respond to these incidents. They are also requested to ensure that such actions would not be repeated again.

The large-scale protest and dispute between the police and public took place at the government headquarters in Admiralty on the night of 26 September. Many reporters were at the scene, in the forefront of the confrontation in order to report on it for the general public. HKJA received several complaints from the reporters that they were mistreated with force repeatedly by the police during news collecting. A reporter from ATV was held by his neck by a police officer. Another reporter from In-media was dragged by an officer even after showing his press card.

The police have been using force against reporters in all recent large protests during their operations. Such acts disrupt the media's work in covering news. HKJA has raised this issue on several occasions with the police but to no avail.

HKJA strongly urged the police to learn from similar incidents and to make prompt and proper improvements. They are also requested to ensure that when carrying out their duties, they will protect the safety of reporters and will respect their right to report in order to maintain press freedom.

A protester walks in tear gas fired by riot policemen after thousands of protesters blocking the main street to the financial Central district outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong, 28 September 2014
A protester walks in tear gas fired by riot policemen after thousands of protesters blocking the main street to the financial Central district outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong, 28 September 2014

REUTERS/Stringer


In a follow up statement on 29 September, HKJA condemned the police's use of tear gas against peaceful demonstrators.

The HKJA strongly condemned police use of unnecessary physical force against demonstrators in the previous 24 hours.

Article 27 of the Basic Law promises Hong Kong residents the freedom of assembly, of procession and of demonstration.

The police have, however, used 87 tear gas grenades against citizens who have only been engaging in peaceful demonstrations as they have every right to do. Many citizens and at least three members of the press were wounded.

The excessive force employed is unnecessary and unacceptable. It is a contradiction to the freedoms and rights promised by the Basic Law. This deviates significantly from the professional performance that the city's policemen are renowned for in the handling of public demonstrations. Whoever made the decision for the use of excessive force has done a major damage to the public's trust on the police.

The Association would also like to salute all the journalists covering the demonstrations for their courageous and professional performance in keeping the public informed of developments. Several journalists continue to work at the scene despite doctors' advice to stay home for the injuries suffered.

Members of the press are encouraged to download HKJA's "Memo on Covering Demonstrations and Rallies in Hong Kong".
hong_kong_hkja_memo.pdf (234 KB)

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
What other IFEX members are saying
  • IFJ safety guidelines for covering demonstrations and civil unrest
  • Dispatches: Political Earthquake in Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong police use force to block reporting of pro-democracy rallies

    A number of journalists from outlets including Hong Kong-based Hong Kong Asia Television, Digital Broadcasting Cooperation, Hong Kong-based Apple Daily and Hong Kong-based online publisher InMedia suffered brutal treatment by police. They were hit by police batons, jostled and manhandled and some were subjected to clouds of tear gas as they reported on the demonstrations outside the Hong Kong Government Headquarters Complex and Central District where many protestors gathered.

  • People of Hong Kong have a right to be heard

    "We are alarmed at the heavy-handed and frankly disproportionate response to what has been a peaceful, lawful, pro-democracy protest. .. Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung's call for protesters to stop immediately is clearly intended to violate their right to free speech and avoid growing criticism."

  • Hong Kong: Free peaceful protesters; Avoid excessive force

    Officials should immediately free anyone still detained for peacefully participating in demonstrations between September 27 and 29, 2014. .. Police use of riot gear, pepper spray, tear gas, and police batons and the detention of peaceful protesters in recent days raise serious concerns about how the Hong Kong and Chinese governments will react to ongoing demonstrations in the territory.



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