The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong expresses its deep concern over multiple reports of police violence on Sept. 28 and Sept. 29 against journalists covering the Hong Kong protests.
They include a report of a serious injury to an Indonesian journalist working for a Hong Kong-based publication who was shot in the face by a police officer using a non-lethal round. Footage from the incident shows she was clearly identified as a journalist and that the police officer fired a parting shot from only a few meters away.
Eyewitness reports from journalists, and video and photos shared on social media, have documented incidents over the weekend that included:
* Journalists being hit by tear gas canisters and rubber bullets;
* Police targeting visibly identified journalists with pepper spray;
* The press being hit by spray from a water cannon containing dye and an agent that causes skin irritation;
* Journalists being verbally threatened by police;
* Police officers deliberately shining bright lights at journalists to impede their access and coverage;
*Police blocking journalists’ cameras and video cameras especially while making arrests of protesters.
The FCC is investigating these reports and calls for police restraint, especially with planned demonstrations in Hong Kong on the October 1 anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. The FCC calls for journalists to be able to cover the protests without interference or threat of attack, which is a right provided under Hong Kong law. The FCC also emphasizes that the media has a right to film and photograph police activity in public places, as long as the press is not impeding them.
The FCC continues to call for an independent inquiry into violence against journalists and interference with the media’s ability to cover the protests. The FCC urges that any such investigation should be transparent.
We have expressed our concern over these types of incidents since the start of the protests in June, yet the violence and interference has only escalated. The multiple incidents on Sept. 28 and Sept. 29 marked a dramatic deterioration in the ability of the media to cover the protests and seriously undermine Hong Kong’s long reputation as a place where journalists can work freely and without harassment.