Two Hong Kong-based journalists were attacked and a Japan media outlet was blocked as they covered the 10th anniversary of the Sichuan earthquake on May 12, 2018. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) have condemned the attack.
On May 12, Chan Ho-Fai, of i-Cable Television, and Lui Tsz-Kin, from Commercial Radio, were covering the memorial services for victims of the Sichuan earthquake in one of the affected areas, Dujiangyan City. After the memorial service, Lui told the IFJ that he went back to his vehicle to start filing his report, when he was approached by three people. Lui said: “I was surprised, though I have anticipated I will be blocked by unidentified people whenever media is reporting sensitive incidents. They opened my door and immediately tried to drag me out of the car, the other one was snatching my bag which carried all of my journalistic materials and belongings. They repeatedly asked me ‘Who are you? What have you done?’”
During the scuffle, Chan noticed Lui being surrounded and started recording the incident on his cell phone. Chan was then approached by two men and stopped filming. The men grabbed his arms and took him to the river, where they continued punching and kicking him in the face and body. He repeatedly cried out for help, and after several minutes two officers from the local Propaganda Department arrived and stopped the attack. Chan told the IFJ that the attackers blocked him from seeing Lui following the attack when he was accompanied by two local Propaganda Department officers. He also demanded the officers investigate, but they claimed not to know the identities of the attackers and didn’t guarantee they would follow up. Chan had visible injuries on his face, wrists and hands and had to seek medical treatment at hospital. Lui was not injured but photos on a camera were deleted.
The incidents were widely reported by the Hong Kong media. The head of the Sichuan Propaganda Department detained two of the attackers and made them apologise to Chan. According to Hong Kong-based Ming Pao Daily, the quake victims identified the attackers and gave their identities to the township officials.
I-Cable Television and the HKJA issued a statement condemning the attacks. They demanded the relevant departments in Hong Kong and China investigate the case.
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, expressed concerns over the cases and said she had contact the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Office and the Sichuan Branch to discuss. She praised the Sichuan officials for ‘keeping an open mind’ and swiftly acting to detain the two attackers.
Staff from a Japanese media outlet, which wished to remain anonymous, were blocked at a road block without clear reason. The media said they were accredited, and were even denied an interview with government officials, although they had followed the official procedure.
The IFJ said: “The attacks on Chan and Lui are unfortunately not the first on their kind, especially for journalists reporting on sensitive topics or in sensitive areas. Although in his incident the attackers apologised, that does not lessen the seriousness of the incident and need to ensure it does not happen in the future.”
The IFJ and HKJA demand an investigation by the Hong Kong Government, and ensure the safety of journalists across Hong Kong and China.
The IFJ also demand the State Council of China to uphold the pledge made in 2008 which allowed press freedom.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries
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