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Journalists face intimidation while covering police clearance of protest

Riot police climb up to the top of a Mass Transit Railway (MTR) train station to disperse reporters during a confrontation at Mong Kok shopping district in Hong Kong, early 29 November 2014
Riot police climb up to the top of a Mass Transit Railway (MTR) train station to disperse reporters during a confrontation at Mong Kok shopping district in Hong Kong, early 29 November 2014

REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Following are two statements originally published on hkja.org.hk on 27 and 26 November 2014.

HKJA condemns the second arrest of a journalist

The Hong Kong Journalists Association condemns in the strongest terms the second arrest of a journalist covering the police clearance of the Occupy protestors in Mong Kok.

An Apple Daily photographer was arrested by the police while reporting on police operations in Mong Kok yesterday evening [26 November 2014]. He was suddenly pushed to the ground, handcuffed and taken away. Other reporters in the vicinity asked officers for the reason for this shocking action but no response was forthcoming. A PPRB spokesman said the reporter had assaulted a police officer.

Handcuffing a reporter covering a public protest is an escalation of anti-media actions in the current police operation. This is similar to the pouncing on a Now TV engineer for allegedly attacking an officer in the same vicinity two nights earlier [please refer to the statement below] but subsequently released without any charges being made.

These arrests are serious violation of press freedom enshrined in the Basic Law. They serve as an intimidation against the media from monitoring the police action. The message: "Don't get too close or you will be arrested".

We condemn such brutal acts on the part of the police to stifle press coverage of the current crisis. We demand the immediate release of the Apple Daily reporter and an explanation from the police on the latest attacks.

The Association is making an appeal to all members of the press and the public to submit to it any complaint and evidence of police interference or violence against the press. All evidence should be submitted to [email protected]

HKJA condemns arrest of TV crew member in Mong Kok

The Hong Kong Journalists Association condemns the arrest of a Now TV news crew member while covering the Police clearance of Occupy protestors in Mong Kok. This is an outright violation of the media's right to report. We demand the immediate release of the technician.

HKJA also calls on the police to investigate the incident and bring those responsible to account. If there is insufficient evidence to press charges the police should apologise to the technician concerned.

The police said one of their officers was "hit" by a ladder carried by the technician who was then pushed to the ground despite his identification as a member of the media. The technician was subsequently arrested for allegedly assaulting the police. However, anyone with some basic knowledge of TV filming will know that a ladder is used only to get better shots at the scene. Policemen on the spot have also barred other journalists from filming the arrest and helping the technician. He suffered various bruises on his face and body from the arrest.

Since the Occupy Movement took place, police officers have dispersed the protesters during their operation - moreover, if there is a dispute, they also treat journalists forcibly even after they have identified themselves. Previously, at least 25 journalists were hurt and HKJA, with other news unions, had a meeting with the police to express our concerns. Yet, the police have not taken any concrete steps to minimise the dangers of news covering. That they unreasonably arrested a journalist this time around is outrageous.

HKJA calls on the police to investigate the incident and bring those responsible to account. If there is insufficient evidence to press charges, the police should apologise to the technician concerned. HKJA reiterates its demand that Tsang Wai-Hung, the Commissioner of the Police, should conduct a review and make improvements in order to avoid similar events in future.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
What other IFEX members are saying
  • Hong Kong police breach Police General Orders

    A photographer with Oriental Daily was threatened with arrest if he continued to use flash to take photos of police clearing the demonstration . . . A crew from Asia Television were threatened with arrest by a station sergeant if they continued to film the clearance action . . . Many journalists were shoved and jostled by Hong Kong police. Many were affected by pepper spray, which made it impossible for them to continue reporting.

  • HKJA expresses Outrage over Ip Kwok-him's false accusation
  • Hong Kong: Curb excessive police force and uphold protesters' rights

    ARTICLE 19 calls for the Hong Kong authorities to curb excessive police force and uphold protesters’ rights to free expression during the current pro-democracy protests. Police say up to 40 people have been arrested, and a similar number have been taken to hospital following an escalation of the protests, which started two months ago in response to the government’s broken promise for democratic elections by 2017.



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