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Hong Kong police use force to block reporting of pro-democracy rallies

Protesters push a traffic barrier to block the main street to the financial Central in Hong Kong September 28, 2014.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has strongly criticised the abuse of power by Hong Kong Police when they attacked journalists, students and citizens at pro-democracy demonstrations on September 27 and 28 and calls on the Hong Kong authorities to investigate the circumstances surrounding the attacks. More than 10,000 people rallied in support of genuine universal suffrage for the election of the next Chief Executive of Hong Kong in 2017.

A number of journalists from outlets including Hong Kong-based Hong Kong Asia Television, Digital Broadcasting Cooperation, Hong Kong-based Apple Daily and Hong Kong-based online publisher InMedia suffered brutal treatment by police. They were hit by police batons, jostled and manhandled and some were subjected to clouds of tear gas as they reported on the demonstrations outside the Hong Kong Government Headquarters Complex and Central District where many protestors gathered.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), media outlets, local non-governmental organisations, human rights organisations, civil society organisations and foreign governments have issued strong statements condemning the police attacks. HKJA said: “Police repeatedly used force to prevent the media reporting recent large scale protests. Their behaviour has not improved, despite a number of requests from media organisations.”

The State Council Internet Office of the Chinese Central Government in Beijing is demanding all Mainland internet administrators delete all information about the demonstrations. The weibo scope, initiated by the Hong Kong University Journalism and Media Studies Center, detected that a post on September 27 about riot police removing students from the Headquarters Complex was deleted from the Sina weibo.com social networking platform on the Mainland.

The IFJ Asia-Pacific Office said: “Under article 27 of the Basic Law of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong people have the rights of press freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. When the media is exercising their rights to report in a professional manner and Hong Kong citizens are peacefully exercising their legal right to assemble, there are no reasonable grounds for Hong Kong police to use force to evict media and citizens.”

“We are also disappointed by the attempts of Mainland authorities to control the distribution of information about the protests and call on media outlets to continue covering the protests and maintain their editorial integrity.”

The IFJ urged all media outlets to ensure journalists are given sufficient protection while covering incidents in Hong Kong and asks journalists to remain vigilant of their own personal safety by adhering to the IFJ Safety Guidelines for Covering Demonstrations and Civil Unrest.

Date posted: September 29, 2014 Last modified: May 12, 2018 Total views: 38