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
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.
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.
further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950
IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific
Find the IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific