Hong Kong: Asia-Pacific unions condemn arrest of HKJA chair

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its Asia-Pacific regional affiliate unions and associations condemn the September 7 arrest of IFJ affiliate Hong Kong Journalist Association (HKJA) chairperson, Ronson Chan. The IFJ and its affiliates call for the immediate removal of all charges against Chan and an immediate end to the ongoing intimidation of journalists.

Ronson Chan, chair of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, was arrested on September 7. Credit: Peter Parks / AFP

On September 7, Chan was arrested while covering a homeowner committee meeting at the MacPherson Stadium in Mong Kok for his work with media outlet Channel C.

Chan and a photographer were on the corner of Nelson and Yim Po Fong Streets when approached by law enforcement officers. A police statement claimed two ‘suspicious’ men were identified outside the stadium and were approached to inspect their identification cards. Police allege Chan refused to comply and was arrested. The Channel C photographer said he and Chan were then separated and searched.  

Chan was arrested on ‘suspicion of obstructing police officers and disorder in a public place’ and was held at the Mong Kok Police station before being released on bail at 11 pm. He must now report to the police later this month. According to police, the Channel C Photographer complied with police instructions and was not arrested.

The arrest of Chan comes as the Hong Kong journalist was scheduled to join the Reuters Institute’s Fellowship Program at Oxford University in the United Kingdom in early October. It remains unclear whether his arrest and reporting obligations will impact this travel.

The IFJ has monitored the situation in Hong Kong with increasing concern as the nation’s media and civil institutions have come increasingly under attack since the establishment of the National Security Law in 2020. Since then, an estimated 1,014 people are reported to have been imprisoned in the territory.

In December 2021, Chan was one of several journalists and media workers detained for their connections to now-defunct network Stand News. Journalists and media workers are among the estimated 100,000 Hong Kongers who have fled the country since the imposition of the NSL by the Chinese authorities, while news organisations such as the Jimmy Lai-owned Apple Daily have been forcefully disbanded, their leaders facing life imprisonment. Fears of harassment and arrest have seen many civil organisations shuttered, including the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions in October 2021.

The IFJ’s Asia-Pacific affiliates said: “The arrest of Ronson Chan is completely unacceptable and yet another blatant attack on press freedom in Hong Kong. All charges against Chan must be cleared immediately. The IFJ and its affiliates call on Hong Kong’s administration to respect freedom of expression and freedom of the press as enshrined in the nation’s constitution and allow all journalists and media workers to work without fear of arrest or reprisal. Despite this and the obligations it has, the world has watched on at the Hong Kong authorities’ decimation of the independent media in Hong Kong.”

IFJ Asia-Pacific affiliates

  • Afghan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA)
  • Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI) [Indonesia]
  • Association of Taiwan Journalists (ATJ)
  • Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists (CAPJ)
  • Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association (CamboJA)
  • E Tū [New Zealand]
  • Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions (FMETU) [Sri Lanka]
  • Free Media Movement (FMM) [Sri Lanka]
  • Indian Journalists Union (IJU)
  • Japan Federation of Newspaper Workers' Unions
  • Journalists Association of Korea (JAK)
  • Journalists Association of Western Samoa (JAWS)
  • Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) [Australia]
  • National Union of Journalists of India (NUJ-I)
  • National Union of Journalists Peninsular Malaysia (NUJM)
  • National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)
  • Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ)
  • SINDIKASI [Indonesia]
  • Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association (SLWJA)
  • Timor-Leste Press Union (TLPU)

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

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

Twitter: @ifjasiapacific, on Facebook: IFJAsiaPacific and Instagram