Hong Kong: Journalists attacked in pro-government rally

Hong Kong journalists reporting a rally in support of Hong Kong police were attacked, insulted and kicked by government supporters on June 30. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) in denouncing all threats to journalists’ safety following ongoing anti-extradition law protests and the broader damage being wrought on press freedom.

Demonstrators rally in support of police outside the Legislative Council in Hong Kong on June 30, 2019. Credit: Isaac Lawrence/APF

According to a statement co-issued by HKJA and the Hong Kong Press Photographers Association (HKPPA), journalists reporting on the Sunday rally were insulted, kicked, spat at, splashed with water and their cameras damaged by rally-goers. Police were called in on multiple occasions to stop pro-government demonstrators targeting journalists during the demonstrations and the protest was deemed as violent as the June 12 protest.

HKJA and HKPPA said journalists were harassed, despite clearly showing their press cards and wearing reflective ‘press’ vests. One female pro-government protester was seen slapping the lens of a photojournalist from CitizenNews and other reporters. In a separate incident, two female Post reporters were verbally abused and threatened. Reporters were also insulted, called ‘whores’ and spat upon. HKJA and HKPPA condemned the attacks and urged the participants to respect the press.

Tens of thousands of pro-government and police supporters took to the streets in Hong Kong’s Tamar Park at the weekend as the city’s deepening split over the extradition bill crisis was laid bare ahead of the city’s 22nd anniversary on July 1 of the British handover to Chinese sovereignty. The protesters wore blue and white and marched waving China’s national flag, shouting support for the controversial extradition law and chanting ‘traitors’ to those opposed to it. Demonstrators gave supported to the city’s police by bearing placards with “We support HK police”. This is in spite of wide condemnation by human rights activists of police brutality during the earlier protests. The demonstrators represent a nationalist, pro-government movement in Hong Kong that regards pro-democracy protests with disdain and welcome the influence and controls coming from Beijing.

Two enormous rallies by anti-government protesters took over the city on June 9 and 12 in opposition to a proposed (but now-postponed) extradition law that would effectively approve Chinese authorities to extradite suspected criminals to mainland China. During protests, Hong Kong police used tear gas and rubber bullets against anti-extradition protesters and journalists reporting from the scene.

 

This week the city marked its third major protest in a month as radical protesters smashed into the city’s Legislative Council building on Monday, June 1. The protesters vandalizing the premises and briefly took over the chamber for the first time in the city’s history in a move that was strongly condemned by Hong Kong CEO Carrie Lam. The continuing protests are setting the stage for a protracted conflict.

The IFJ said: “We raise ongoing concerns for journalists reporting on developments in Hong Kong right now. These unjustified attacks on media workers signal a clear attack on press freedom and a lack of understanding on the public’s right to information at a critical political juncture. The IFJ urges the Lam administration to make every effort to protect Hong Kong’s free press and end police brutality.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on 
+61 2 9333 0918

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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