Pro-democracy media blockaded by protesters in Hong Kong

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) criticizes the actions of protestors, illegally blocking the entrances of the Next Media building and harassing journalists over two days. With Occupy Movement demonstrations continuing in Hong Kong, the IFJ has again called on protesters to respect media rights and the free flow of information.

On October 11, more than a dozen protestors assembled outside the offices of Next Media, a pro-democracy media group, at Tseung Kwan O in Hong Kong. Three cars, including a goods trunk, were parked at the front entrance, preventing vehicles from leaving to deliver newspapers.

The following day, on October 12, dozens of protestors continued to assemble outside the building. Tents were erected to block entrances which subsequently affected newspaper deliveries and the staff’s ability to come and go. When journalists with Apple Daily, a Next Media newspaper, and Now Television attempted to report on the demonstration, protestors immediately covered their faces, surrounded journalists and pushed them. One journalist was forcibly pulled from behind and his clothes were torn. When police tried to escort a Now Television driver out of the building, the protestors banged on the police car. At the same time, dozens of protestors who claimed to be “Lady Red Guards” assembled at the front door of the apartment of Jimmy Lai, the Chairperson of Next Media. Protestors accused Jimmy Lai and Next Media of inciting the Occupy Movement.

The chairperson of the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), Sham Yee-lan, said the protestors’ actions were damaging press freedom.

“Based on what has happened over two consecutive nights, it clearly appears to be an organized act with a motive,” she said. “The acts of protestors in blocking the free flow of information have deprived readers of their right to know and jeopardized press freedom, as well as preventing staff of Next Media from going back their homes.”

A series of scuffles also occurred in the early hours of October 12 at Mong Kok in Kowloon. Following incidents on October 3 and 4, several journalists were pushed and kicked by unknown people. A journalist with Hong Kong-based newspaper Mingpao suffered injuries to his leg which caused bleeding. He said a policeman was standing very close to him when his leg was injured.

The IFJ Asia Pacific Office said: “Under the Basic Law of Hong Kong, people have the right to assemble. However, people also have the right of press freedom. People should not impose their hatred on alternate voices.”

We urge all Hong Kong journalists to stay vigilant when they are covering incidents related to the Occupy Movement and follow the IFJ Safety Guidelines for Covering Demonstrations and Civil Unrest

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

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