Monitoring Hong Kong's protests: June 2019 - ongoing

Since June 2019, protests have taken over the streets of Hong Kong on a weekly basis. As journalists and media workers attempt to cover these protests, they are often assaulted and attacked, for simply doing their job. The IFJ and its affiliate, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) have developed an ongoing log of media violations. These are updated as needed, for further contributions please contact ifj.china@ifj-asia.org

Read the monitoring log in Chinese here

Media violations recorded since June 10, 2019: 53 in total

Attack: 22

Harassment: 11

Restricted media access: 19

Arrest: 1


September 9 2019: Mongkok – journalists from MingPao was pushed onto the ground.

On 9 Sept, a journalists from Ming Pao was covering the conflict outside Mongkok Police station and firming a men kneeling in front of the police station. then, all in a sudden, man wore police vest, with face covered and held a shield yelled at the journalist and a photojournalist from SCMP told them to leave. The journalist from Ming Pao was pushed onto the ground. Then police officer did not apologise, and repeated said that the journalists fell by himself. A large group of riot police and plain clothes police surrounded the journalists, and tried to being the two journalists involved aside. The journalists from Ming Pao tried to ask for the identification number of the involved policeman for further complaint, but did not get any reply.

September 7, 2019: Mongkok – journalists injured by pepper spray

On 7 Sept, during an arrest action in Mongkok district, the police deployed pepper spray towards journalists on the spot, when there were no protesters around. A number of frontline journalists were injured.

September 5, 2019: Hong Kong – journalists’ union attacked by fake news.

A pro-government online media, Bastille post, posted an article titled "someone used the name of reporter as cover to attack police officers", claiming that, "everyone can get a 'journalists card' easily by just paying $20HKD to HKJA", which is definitely not true, HKJA restated that they has been reviewing every application of membership carefully.

August 31, 2019: Mongkok- Journalists violently attacked covering protests

The Hong Kong Police Force sent the Special Tactical Squad into Prince Edward MTR station at night, where many reporters and photographers were expelled during their reporting and filming without any reasonable explanation. The closing of the Prince Edward station barred any members of the press from entering the station for reporting, hence the lack of media monitoring on the police conduct inside the station. 

Earlier in the evening, a number of reporters questioned the identity of an alleged police officer at Victoria Park, but none of them was given a response. A number of uniform officers immediately encircled about 10 journalists near a 5 meter by 2 meter planter near Victoria Park and cordoned them off. A female officer on-site explained that the police were conducting “special operations” and refused to let the reporters leave. The reporters were only allowed to leave after a number of alleged police officers had boarded a tourist bus and left, and the whole incident lasted for around 5 minutes.

August 26, 2019: Hong Kong - Journalists violently attacked covering protests

On August 24, HKJA recorded several violations against journalists and media workers as they covered protests across Hong Kong. 

Read IFJ statement here

Credit: Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP

August 19, 2019: Hong Kong Government respond to IFJ letter

Hong Kong Government sent letter responding to the IFJ letter sent on July 23, 2019. 

See full letter here

August 13, 2019: China is Waging a Disinformation War Against Hong Kong Protesters - New York Times

Read article here

August 13, 2019: Hong Kong International Airport - Journalist attacked my protesters

On 13 August, a reporter from the mainland’s Global Times was surrounded by protesters. He was being tied up. The reporter did not show their press cards when the incidents occurred.

See IFJ statement here

Global Times’ journalist Fu Guohao as medics removed him from the airport. Credit: Anthony Wallace/AFP

August 11, 2019: North Point - Journalists attacked covering protests

On the evening of August 11th, the Hong Kong Journalists Association and Hong Kong Press Photographers Association received several reports of journalists being assaulted. When a crowd was beating a man in black in North Point, a Ming Pao journalist attempted to approach and find out the details, but he was pushed away by the crowd and got punched on his left cheek as he tried to explain his intention. Journalists of Stand News and RTHK were disturbed by a crowd in North Point during reporting. The journalist of Stand News was threatened with a stick and had his tripod seized abruptly; the journalist of RTHK was assaulted by the crowd. There were police officers present nearby, but they did not make any arrest.

August 9, 2019: Hong Kong - Problems rising due to effects of tear gas

A poll carried out by a doctor has found that reporters who have been on the front line covering recent protests have reported stomach and skin problems due to the effects of tear gas.

August 5, 2019: Shum Shui Po - Journalist hit by tear gas cannister

During the attempt at the night of 5 August at clearing the Shum Shui Po area, police aimed tear gas at the scene on ground from a high-rise building. A documentary-shooting journalism student was hit in the head with a cannister from that attempt, causing severe bleeding from the head and subsequent fainting. Another on-site journalist was immediately arrested while protecting the said injured student journalist.

See IFJ statement here

July 30, 2019: Kwai Fong - Media pepper sprayed

During the unrest at Kwai Fong on 30 July, all 5 reporters from Apple Daily Hong Kong, were hit by the pepper spray of the Police. One photojournalist wearing helmet were hit by the police with shield twice on his head and upper body, causing pain at his face and fell on the ground once. The police also chase and hit another female reporter wearing reflective vest and helmet with baton.

July 28, 2019: Sai Ying Pun, Sheung Wan - Journalists tear gassed 

On 28 July there were serious clashes between police and protesters in Sai Ying Pun and Sheung Wan. While reporting the clashes, front-line reporters found the police had fired tear gas towards them multiple times. Some of the tear gas canisters exploded very close to them. A number of photojournalists were directly hit by the tear gas canisters and sustained injuries. A reporter was asked by a police officer to show her ID card. The officer claimed she was “assisting the riot”. During the series of large scale confrontations between police and protesters in the last month, reporters also found that police officers had frequently used strong light to point at reporters, obstructing their reporting and causing harm to journalists’ eyes. These actions have seriously undermined press freedom. We condemn these actions by the police against reporters and urge the police to immediately address the issues relating to the question of abuse of police power.

July 27, 2019: Yuen Long - Journalist shot in face with pepper spray 

A police officer without a warrant shot a reporter with pepper spray in the face and ear. At the time there were no protesters just media. The reporter had to seek medical treatment at Tai Po Nethersole Hospital. 

July 23, 2019: IFJ writes to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam amid ongoing violence against media

The IFJ remains extremely concerned about the recent spike in attacks against the media in Hong Kong and condemns the violence initiated by the authorities, particularly by the police, on journalists. They have failed to secure safety for journalists as well as for the citizens against vicious assaults, resulting in a serious infringement of press freedom. The IFJ reminded the Hong Kong government that as a region that has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), they have anobligation to protect freedom of expression and press freedom.

Read IFJ statement here and the IFJ letter here

Police fire tear gas at protesters as the media watches on. Credit: Anthony Wallace/AFP

July 22, 2019: Yuen Long: IFJ condemns violence against the media as protests continue

According to a statement issued by IFJ affiliate, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), hundreds of masked assailants dressed in white assaulted residents, protesters, journalists and lawmakers at Yuen Long. The incident happened as anti-extradition bill protests ended. Two reporters were beaten and pushed to the ground, one of them left bleeding inform his mouth. Another reporter’s camera was thrown to the ground and damaged. At least one reporter went to hospital for medical treatment.  

Read full IFJ statement here

July 14, 2019: Shatin: Bus Terminal at Yuen Wo Road and Shatin Railway station

Journalist testimony:

As police were clearing Yuen Wo Road, I decided to go to the backend and see how the protesters disperse. I was following 10 people, they tried to go one way, but the police ran at the and pepper sprayed and tried to arrest them. I was sprayed in the face, so I moved back and identified myself as a journalist. As the police started attacking one of the people I was following, I began to film (see video below). The police noticed my filming and started yelling 'Reporters!'. All of a sudden I was by myself and the police officers were yelling at me, 'You reports made the society a mess!'. I told them I didn't obstruct them, but they said 'Bullshit!'.

Later as I tried to leave the area I was blocked from going to the MTR and threatened with arrest. 

July 13, 2019: Sheung Shui

Journalist testimony:

I was wearing a yellow singlet and helmet, both has PRESS written on them. I was on the footbridge next to Sheungshui Plaza. Police were clearing the area and lawmakter Wun Siu Kin was arguing with police about a youngster who had almost fallen from the footbridge. The front of my body was hit by a police officer in a white uniform with a shield - See video below:

July 7, 2019: Shantung Street, Mongkok

Journalist testimony

I was wearing my press ID, filming a police pushback from Shantung Street. During the pushback, police swung their baton at the protesters, and I was hit on the head. 

July 1, 2019: Ferwick Pier Street

Journalist testimony

In the early morning of 1 July, I was filming the police's clearance action that kept moving towards the LegCo on Ferwick Pier Street.  Since it was messy and i could not leave promptly, I was trapped between the protesters and the police.  During that time, the index finger that used to press the shutter was beaten by baton, my finger was swollen and lost sensation for a short while.  I asked the protesters who are responsible for first aid for two packs of ice on the injured area.  I also asked the St John's first aid team to check, and was sure that there were not fracture thus i did not see doctor immediately.  I took another ice pack for my injured area.  I went to the doctor on the next day.  After taking X-ray, the crack at the second section of index finger was discovered. The doctor suggested me to rest for 2 months for recovery. At the time of the incident i was wearing my identification card, helmet, the newswear bag often used by photojournalists.  I did not wear reflective vest.

June 24, 2019: Harcourt Road

Journalist testimony:

Three police in plainclothes wearing vests from the Crime Squad of NT South Regional Headquarter, without warrant card, approached us and stopped us.  They asked about the details and requested us to show our identification. We showed our press cards from our news agency, the press card issued by Hong Kong Photojournalist Association, the long-term press card issued by Legislative Council (the parliament of Hong Kong) and the press card issued by Central Government Office (CGO).  One of the officers asked who issued the CGO press card to reporters.  The reporter answered the administration department does.  That officer said “I don’t know and won’t argue with you.” And released us after recording our details, but requested us to film at a position behind other reporters there.

June 17, 2019: HKJA lodge complaint to Independent Police Complaints Commission over media violations

HKJA lodged a complaint to IPCC concerning abuses against the press by police officers and call for setting up of an independent committee to investigate. Twenty-six journalists have testified on abuses against the press by police officers during the demonstrations against the Fugitive Transfer Bill, those abuses have not only caused journalists bodily harm but also infringed upon the press freedoms enshrined in the Basic Law. The Hong Kong Journalists Association called for the Chief Executive to set up an independent committee to ascertain whether top level order was the cause of these wide-spread and violent abuses. A complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) has also been filed by the union today to demand an investigation into individual cases.

June 13, 2019: Urgent motion against media violations in Hong Kong passed at IFJ Congress

At the IFJ Congress in Tunis, Tunisia - IFJ affiliates passed an urgent motion calling on the Hong Kong Government to guarantee press freedom and journalist safety during the protests in Hong Kong. 

Read the urgent motion here

June 12, 2019: Harcourt Road overpass

Journalist testimony:

Police shot tear gas at a group of journalists on the overpass, then followed one journalist yelling at them and using physical gestures. They were threatening to load teargas and shoot at us. In footage the journalist shot with the tear gas can be seen with their arms in the air. 

June 12, 2019: Legislative Council Complex

Journalist testimony:

Police were dispersing protesters with tear gas and more than ten journalists including myself were taking photos of the protesters while taking cover next to the green-zone. I wore a helmet with the word "PRESS" and a safety vest with the word "MEDIA". All the media I was with had identification on their clothing. All of a sudden, my eyes were burning, I thought it was because of the tear gas brought by the wind, then I lost my eyesight. I could only leave holding the arms of my fellow reporters. I didn't know I got hit. I only learnt it later that a police officer sprayed liquid tear gas on my head. 

June 12, 2019: Harcourt Road

Journalist testimony

I was taking footage of a group of riot police spraying pepper spray on protesters who had tripped and fallen over. I was stopped by police officers wearing black vest and told to leave. I put down my camera and said I would leave from the side, but one of the people in black vest waved the baton and shouted at me. I identified myself as a reporter and walked away. Yet, six police officers came to surround me right away and three of them pointed to my belly with their batons, and one of them was video-taping the process. I showed my press pass, then I was asked to present my identity card. The officer gave up asking for my ID card after knowing it was in my backpack, and turned to the Apple Daily reporter in safety vest standing next to me, looking for press pass again. Among the police officers I met, six did not display their Police Warrant Card and one put it inside a transparent pocket on the vest.

June 12, 2019: Junction of Queensway and Justice Drive

Journalist testimony

Police were dispersing protesters towards Wan Chai along Queensway. I stayed behind with other journalists to film. A special tactical squad suddenly ran at us shouting 'no stay behind'. We raised our press ID and said 'press, press' while moving a few steps to Justice Drive. The squad kept charging at us, waving their batons. We turned around and walked up Justice Drive. The police continue to chase us, one officer hit my backpack, only stopping when I started to run. My waterbottle and laptop were damaged. 

June 12, 2019: Entrance to Wung Lo Road Tunnel - Journalist harassed by police 

Journalist testimony:

I was up a ramp at the entrance of Lung Wo Road Tunnel recording the proceedings when a team of full gear riot police charged on to disperse demonstrators. By the time they reached me, most protestors had gone. Wearing my press vest, I identified as a journalist, but a riot police officer retorted with swear words “Reporters, so what? Just fxxking go!” and started hitting my backpack with his baton.

June 12, 2019: Harcourt Road, Lippo Centre - Media searched by police 

Journalist testimony: 

I was instructed by my editor to record proceedings along Harcourt Road. I was wearing my press credentials at all times. When I almost reached Lippo Centre, a police officer looked me in the eye and said “Boy, come over for a body search and identity check.” in Chinese. I immediately identified myself as a member of the press, prompting a group of more than 10 anti-triad officers to demand my standing in front a wall during the ID check. I cooperated and started filming the proceedings, but an anti-triad officer caught my hand and started slapping my mobile phone that was recording. I queried the reason for the stop and search as my news gathering was legal, with my credentials displayed prominently all along. He claimed never knowing I was a reporter and my press card wasn’t front facing, to which I rebutted and stressed his words were contrary to facts. The officer conducting the search asserted it was too dark to see clearly and started pronouncing my personal details (ID card number, name in Chinese and how it is spelt in English) in a very loud voice into my recording. As no contraband was found in my possession, but only a personal computer, gear for news gathering and a folding umbrella, I was released about 10 minutes after.

June 12, 2019: Lippo Centre - Journalist shot by rubber bullet

Journalist testimony:

I was under the bridge between the PLA headquarters and the Lippo Centre, there were only a few protestors nearby. I was preparing to send photos to the newsroom. I was facing the police defensive line, busy dealing with the camera and the phone. Suddenly after hearing a loud bang, my left ankle was hit by a rubber bullet or a bean bag round, leaving a semi-circular bloodmark and swelling on the foot. I fell on the ground with limited mobility. I was then sent to the hospital for treatment. Doctor examined the wound and concluded the wound is three to four centimeters in diameter, my foot was swollen with bruises, and need to rest for a week.
At the time of the incident, I wore a helmet with the word "PRESS", I was also wearing a gas mask and a press pass. Although I did not wear a reflective vest, the police knew that I was a reporter and I have been cooperating with the police. 

Hong Kong journalists dressed in high visibility jackets and helmets during a police press conference to protest what they said was excessive force used against them during the June 12 clashes between police and protesters against a controversial extradition law proposal, in Hong Kong on June 13, 2019. Credit: AFPTV

June 12, 2019: Harcourt Road - Journalist pepper sprayed

Journalist testimony: 

When the police started clearing Harcourt Road, I identified myself as a reporter and stood aside to avoid obstructing their work. But the police still kept pushing me, and sprayed pepper water on my head and my face. I didn’t feel well. Three to four police officers even pushed me to a road partition, forcing me into traffic coming in the opposite direction.

June 12, 2019: Outside CITIC Tower, Tim Mei Road - Media tear gassed, equipment damaged

Journalist testimony: 

When protestors ran towards Central on the Harcourt Road Flyover, riot police fired tear gas from the ground. Police officers explained they did it because they could not identify the people on the bridge. But only reporters were on the flyover, they were between protestors and the police. Police fired tear gas towards the link point equipment, used for signal transmission purposes, when they were clearing Lung Wo Road/Legislative Council. We had to abandon our equipment and fled from the scene. On the flyover, protestors were retreating, and police were playing catch-up, they kept throwing out tear gas, regardless who was in front of them.

June 12, 2019: Outside CITIC Tower, Tim Mei Road - Police fire tear gas at media 

Journalist testimony:

Police has finished dispersing most protestors and I was walking towards Harcourt Road with four to five reporters. Everyone of us wore vests with the word “PRESS”. The police fired tear gas to us.

June 12, 2019: Outside Central Government Complex - Media tear gassed by police 

Journalist testimony:

I was on Tim Mei Avenue after leaving the Legislative Council Complex, and the police fired a couple of tear gas shots to protestors staying on the Avenue. A number of fellow reporters and I approached the police squad to take photos as they reorganised themselves. That was the moment when police threw tear gas at us with no protestors in sight. Some reporters ran away, some stayed behind to take pictures. The police could not have mistaken us as protestors. The protesters had retreated and the whole row standing there were journalists. (I only dared to record footage on the driving lane because of the whole journalist gang there.) But police fired tear gas on us anyways. The police could not have mistaken us for protesters as the protesters had retreated 10 meters behind us. We were obviously holding cameras.  

I and a few journalists went to the driving lane closer to the CITIC Tower. With riot police approaching, we continued our reporting standing right next to the building. But still, a police officer shouted at us “walk!” and pushed us. “Don’t push me, I can walk!” I shouted back, then the police officer stopped pushing me. Riot police also shouted at us and ordered us to walk. 

June 12, 2019: Hong Kong - Journalist pepper sprayed

Journalist testimony: 

I wore my press pass and held a camera in my hand. As I was  covering the conflict between protestors and Hong Kong Police, I have been pepper-sprayed and had to handle my wound in the buffer zone. I removed my helmet, facial mask and goggles, and a couple of Hong Kong reporters and first-aiders helped to clean my wound.

Credit: Vivek Prakash/AFP

June 12, 2019: Admiralty Drive, near Justice Drive - Journalist harassed by police 

Journalist testimony: 

A team of special tactical squad was clearing the site towards the east while I was taking videos with my mobile phone to their right hand side. I was wearing a helmet with the word “press” printed on both front and back end, a CRHK reflective yellow vest printed with CRHK logo and “press” on my chest. I have been pointing to the press sign on my forehead with my left hand from the very beginning while shooting video with my right hand. All of a sudden, the police tried to drive me away. I have repeatedly identified myself as a reporter at the top of my voice but was told “fxxk your mother journalist”. I gave up shooting and turned around to leave. A police officer hit my right elbow. I kept running, shouting “I’m a reporter”. The police stopped finally. As far as I know, police hit the backpack of a fellow newspaper reporter, which caused damage to the screen of his laptop.

June 12, 2019: Chinese People's Liberation Army Forces Hong Kong Building, Connaught Road Central - Police fire tear gas at media 

Journalist testimony: 

A special tactical squad of 7-8 people was driving protesters from Harcourt Road to Connaught Road Central. Tear gas had been fired earlier, so there was about 100 meters between the police and the protesters. Several reporters were in front of the police, walking towards Connaught Road. The police ordered the media to leave. We were walking away when there was a bang behind us, they had fired tear gas at us and a bullet flew past me. I was shocked and lost my hearing for a short time. I turned around and police officer who had fired the tear gas was less than 4 meters away from me. I immediately left the scene. 

June 11, 2019: IFJ calls for guarantees for media safety during protests

As over a million people took to the streets of Hong Kong to protest the government’s controversial extradition bill on June 9, a number of journalists were blocked and barred from covering the protests. 

See full IFJ statement here

June 11, 2019: Admiralty MTR - Media blocked from filming 

Journalist testimony: 

I arrived at Admiralty Station where several people were having their bags searched by police. I began filming the scene. A police officer approached me and said I couldn't film inside the MTR without prior approval. The police officer then told me to move back not to film personal information of those being searched. I moved back but kept filming, so the officer stood in front of camera.

June 10, 2019: IFC Footbridge - Journalists harassed by police 

A group of police officers carrying shields were advancing on a group of journalists, shouting and abusing them. There were no protesters in the area. Each journalist was wearing a reflective vest or press ID. 

June 10, 2019: Tamar Park - Media harassed by police 

Journalist testimony:

As I arrived at Tamar Park police were already trying to disperse the media and protesters. I saw two photojournalists from Oriental Daily and Ming Pao ask to head towards the LegCo via Tamar Park. The police rejected the request telling them to walk forward and pushing them with their shields 

June 10, 2019: Tamar Park - Media harassed by police 

Journalist testimony: 

As we were covering a protest at Tamar Park, police started harassing us including insulting us, obstructing our reporting, pulling on our equipment telling us to leave. They also block us from turning on our lights as we were recording, and pointed bright lights into the camera to void the recordings. 

June 10, 2019: Central Habour front and Central Pier - Media blocked

Journalist testimony

As police started pushing protesters back, they began shouting at the media 'Being a journalist doesn't mean you can do whatever you want' and pushed them with shields to disperse them. They pushed the media towards the footbridge near IFC, creating a defence line right and left, blocking the media from leaving. The media were blocked for 30 minutes despite all protesters already left. 

June 10, 2019: Junction at Lung Wo Road and Lung Hop Street - Media denied access to protesters

Journalist testimony: 

Police started to disperse protesters along Lung Wo Road towards the Convention Centre. Those left at Lung Wo Road were reporters and identified themselves. However police installed a defence line blocking access to the Arts Centre, blocking access to the protesters. 

June 10, 2019: Old Wan Chai Police Station - Journalist attacked by police

Journalist testimony: 

During a shoot outside the Old Wan Chai Police Station I became separated from my cameraperson. As I tried to cross the street to reach them I was surrounded by 5-6 police officers who were pushing my with their shields. I immediately identified myself as a journalist, however they did not stop. When they finally stopped my wrist was swollen and red, requiring medical attention and an X-ray.

Over a million people took to the streets in Hong Kong to protest the proposed extradition bill tabled by the Hong Kong government. Credit: Philip Fong/AFP

June 10, 2019: Legislative Council - Media blocked by police 

Journalist testimony: 

During a confrontation at the Legislative Council officers from the Special Tactical Squard arrived, they asked the press to cease reporting and vacate the area. At about 10pm conflict broke out and it became unsafe for the press. When press requested to leave, the request was denied by the police, pointing their batons forcing the press back to the area of conflict. At about 1.30am, police attempted to move the protesters and the press on, and even when the press identified themselves they were told by the police they had to leave. 

June 10, 2019: Tamar Park - Journalist assaulted by police 

Journalist testimony: 

We placed our equipment at the roundabout outside the Legislative Council. As I was waiting with my correspondent for the cameraperson we were ordered by police to immediately leave the area without warning. As we started moving towards Tamar Park I was dragging heavy equipment up a hill. The police used their baton to strike the equipment and yell at us to ran faster up the hill. Once we reached the park we tried to conduct some interviews but we pestered by the police and told to move along. 

June 10, 2019: Near Chief Executive Office, Hong Kong - Journalist harassed by police 

Journalist testimony: 

I encountered a police defence line, maintaining 5-6 meters from the police shield squad. There were less than 10 protesters nearby. The police continued to advance, shouting at the protesters 'Runaway ASAP'. I started to film a 'live' on my mobile phone, maintaining my distance. As the protesters dispersed, the police focused on me. I pointed to my 'press' armband and said I was working. The police shouted at me, 'reporters do not have special privlege'. I was pushed back several times. I showed my press ID and said I have no intention of obstructing police. I asked where I could stand to be out of their way. The police said 'you get out of our way'. A police officer then tried to grab my press ID. When I resisted they accused me of possessing weapons and searched my bag. 

 

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