IFJ Condemns Detention of Journalist by Hong Kong Police

 

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the detaining by Hong Kong Police of a

journalist after asking Chinese President Hu Jintao a question about the

Tiananmen Square massacre during his official visit to Hong Kong to mark 15

years since the territory’s handover to China and to oversee the inauguration

ceremony of the fourth term of Hong Kong’s Government.

 

On June 30, Rex Hong

Yiu-Ting, journalist for the Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily, shouted a question to Hu Jintao as he passedhim

at a distance of about 10 metres. Hong asked Hu if he was aware of the Hong

Kong people’s calls for justice for the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. Hu did not respond to the question, and Hong’s attempt to

follow Hu’s route was stopped. He was taken away by

a group of plain-clothes police officers without explanation, and detained in a

separate room for approximately 15 minutes until Hu left

the vicinity.

 

After Hong’s release he said, “The Police said that I had caused a

disturbance and violated the rules as I spoke too loudly”. It is reported that other journalists were asking questions of Hu in the same

manner as Hong without interference from police. When journalists sought

an explanation as to why the journalist was detained, the police initially

refused to answer but finally replied that the Hong

was detained “at the request of the host venue”.

 

The actions of Hong

Kong’s police immediately sparked outrage from major journalists groups,

including IFJ affiliate the Hong Kong Journalists Association and the Hong

Kong News Executives’ Association. Journalism scholars from five local

universities and several pro-democracy legislators also condemned the actions.

 

In addition, many local

and overseas journalists complained that they were unable to access relevant information

from the Hong Kong Government regarding the schedule of President Hu’s visit,

which seriously affected their ability to cover the story. Two out of six

schedules provided to journalists by the Hong Kong Government did not disclose

any information except for asking journalists to gather at designated place and

time. New Tang Dynasty Television complained that they did not receive any

information from the Government at all.

 

The actions of the

Hong Kong police in this case run contrary to the promises made by

then-Secretary Security Bureau Lai Tung-Kwok, Police Commissioner Andy Tsang

and other senior Hong Kong police officers during special meetings of the panel on Security of Legislative Council in 2011,

when they repeatedly

affirmed their respect for press freedom and wish to facilitate media

engagement in the exercise of their duties.

 

“Hong Kong’s police force

is clearly acting against the interests of press freedom by punishing a

journalist for asking an unwelcome question of President Hu Jintao.” IFJ

Asia-Pacific Office said.

 

“Asking difficult

questions of politicians is part of the day-to-day responsibility of an

effective, independent media. It does not justify censorship or detainment.”

 

IFJ calls for Hong

Kong’s Independent Police Complaints Council to investigate this latest

incident and urges the Hong Kong Police to issue an apology to Hong.

 

We also call for Leung Chun-Ying, Chief Executive of Hong Kong, to

uphold his promise to defend press freedom in Hong Kong.  

 

Harassment of Hong Kong’s media during official visits from the mainland

is nothing new. On August 18, 2011,Sit

Ka-Kit, a camera operator with Now Television, was prevented by a

plain clothes policeman from filming the visit of Chinese Vice Premier Li

Keqiang to Hong Kong. A police officer in uniform failed to act on Sit’s

complaint that he had been prevented from performing his professional duty, and

that the person responsible had refused to identify themselves. In May 2012,

the Independent Police Complaints Council later confirmed that the police were

had interfered with the press in this case.

 

For

further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950 

 

The

IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

 

Find

the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

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