Just days after journalists were attacked in Sichuan covering the earthquake memorial, several Hong Kong journalists were manhandled and harassed by non-uniformed police in Beijing on May 16. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) have condemned the attack as an attempt to suppress press freedom.
On Wednesday, cameraman Chui Chun-Ming and journalist Lee Tung-yan from Hong Kong-based NOW Television were trying to cover a hearing of human rights lawyer Xie Yanyi at the Beijing Lawyers Association. They tried to interview Xie outside the building but were stopped by uniformed police, demanding to see their press accreditation. After checking, the police returned Lee’s card, but detained Chui’s, claiming they were checking authenticity. When the journalists questioned the police, Xie then intervened, the police manhandled Chui. He was grabbed by five non-uniformed police, pushed to the ground and handcuffed. Chui was then taken to a van and detained at the police station for two hours before he was given medical treatment. Chui was released after he was ordered to write a repentance letter, his equipment was also returned. Video footage showed injuries to Chui’s left temple, hands and knees. His camera was destroyed.
In a separate incident outside the building of the Association of journalists from RTHK, I-Cable Television and Television Broadcasting Ltd (TVB) were harassed and pushed by two people. One of them verbally harassed the journalists and accused journalists of taking his photo. When asked by the journalists, he claimed he was a citizen. The incident was witnessed by four uniformed police officers.
NOW Television and the HKJA released a statement, in which they were furious over the incidents and demanded the Hong Kong Government follow up the incidents with Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung.
HKJA said “We express strong indignation and lodge strong protest against the Beijing authorities. Stop any uncivilized acts and suppression against the reporting work of journalists.” HKJA also demanded the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, to express the concerns of the Hong Kong people to the Central Government, and ensure the safety of journalists. Xie Yanyi was reported also attacked by police before being freed to attend the hearing.
The IFJ said: “The blatant disregard for the rights of the press and media is highlighted by the two incidents in the past week, attacking journalists for simply doing their job. We stand in solidarity with the HKJA is demanding the Hong Kong Government take these incidents and the issue of journalist safety up with the Chinese Government immediately.”
The IFJ calls on President Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, Premier of China, to order Zhao Kezhi, Minister and Party Committee Secretary of the Ministry of Public Security, to make a full investigation into the two incidents, report to the public and ensure all Public Security personnel respect media’s right to report.
For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 16
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 146 countries