October 4, 2019 - Updated on October 15, 2019

Hong Kong: journalist permanently blinded in one eye amid increased police violence

A rubber bullet shot by the Hong Kong police on Sunday caused a journalist to lose sight in an eye. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) again urges the authorities to guarantee reporters’ safety.

A reporter working for Indonesian-language media outlet Suara Hong Kong News, Veby Mega Indah, has permanently lost eyesight in the right eye on Sunday September 29th after she was hit by a rubber bullet shot by the Hong Kong police during a protest. On Tuesday October 1st, during the pro-democracy demonstrations taking place in parallel with the events marking the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, several journalists were also injured by the police (see below for a chronology of violence against the media since the beginning of the crisis).

“Violence against the press in Hong Kong reaches a new high with a reporter being left with a permanent disability,'' commented Cédric Alviani, head of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) East Asia bureau, who urges the authorities to “take immediate measures to guarantee the safety of reporters and to launch an independent investigation on violent acts against them with no further delay.” 

Since the beginning of the demonstrations in June, the Hong Kong police has been regularly pointed out for numerous cases of abuse against journalists, leading RSF to publicly address Chief Executive Carrie Lam in an open letter that only received a canned answer.

In the RSF World Press Freedom Index, Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, plummeted from 18th in 2002 to 73rd this year.

Four months of violence against the press

  • 13 October 2019: A driver working for Now TV, surnamed Lau, was hit by a police projectile outside Mong Kok police station and then detained for two hours. Lau, who claims to have been beaten up, was left with a broken right jaw which required surgery. Hong Kong police has launched an internal investigation.
  • 5 October 2019: American journalist Suzanne Sataline was violently pushed against a billboard by the police and momentarily detained while she was covering the protests. The journalist claims to have been hit and threatened.
  • 1 October 2019: Journalists from Stand News and RTHK were hit by rubber or sponge bullets. A reporter from Local Press was arrested and held at the police station for more than 24 hours. Journalists from Apple Daily were threatened by police carrying guns.
  • 29 September 2019: In the area of Wanchai, a reporter working for Indonesian-language media outlet Suara Hong Kong News, Veby Mega Indah, has permanently lost eyesight in the right eye after she was hit by a rubber bullet shot by the police during a protest. In the area of Causeway Bay, police attacked a journalist with pepper spray.
  • 24 September 2019: An Apple Daily journalist, who was previously the victim of doxing and stalking, was assaulted by four masked men when dining in the area of Sau Mau Ping.
  • 15 September 2019: A third-year student journalist from Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) was arrested by the police while reporting.
  • 7 September 2019:  Two officers from the Special Tactical Squad used pepper spray against journalists from AFP, Ming Pao, HK01 and Cable TV. In the area of Yau Ma Tei, a reporter from Stand News was punched by a man while reporting.
  • 2 September 2019: The police extensively used pepper spray against reporters in front of the Mongkok Police station. The Special Tactical Contingent pushed a journalist from Now TV to the ground.
  • 31 August 2019: Many journalists and photographers were prohibited from reporting by Hong Kong police near Prince Edward MTR station.
  • 24 August 2019: Some pro-Beijing mobs kicked and yelled at a journalist from Now TV, as well as surrounding RTHK and Oriental Daily reporters, obstructing the reporting.
  • 11 August 2019: Five journalists from online media HK01, Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) and daily newspaper Ming Pao, including one from an unidentified news media, were physically attacked by a group of pro-Beijing mobs in the North Point area, while a reporter from online media Stand News was verbally assaulted and threatened.
  • 5 August 2019: In the Sham Shui Po area, a student journalist fainted after being hit by a tear gas canister shot by the police. In the Wong Tai Sin area, a journalist from Sing Tao Daily was tear gassed in his face. A group of mobsters attacked a photographer from HK01 in the Tsuen Wan area.
  • 30 July 2019: The police hit a photojournalist from Apple Daily outside Kwai Chung Police Station, while continuously threatening a RTHK reporter. Many journalists were also pepper sprayed, and one of whom was hospitalized as a result.
  • 28 July 2019: The police repeatedly fired tear gas at the direction of journalists in the Sai Ying Pun and Sheung Wan area.
  • 21 July 2019: Four journalists working for Apple Daily, Stand News and news channel Now News are among the 45 people seriously injured in a large-scale attack perpetrated at the Yuen Long metro station by a mafia group dressed in white. The Stand News journalist was later hospitalized.
  • 14 July 2019: A journalist from Commercial Radio Hong Kong was pepper sprayed in the face, and later obstructed and pushed away by the police in the Shatin area.
  • 7 July 2019: In the Mongkok area, the police verbally and physically assaulted three journalists from Apple Daily, HK01, and Metro Radio.
  • 1 July 2019: An independent broadcaster, Citizens’ Radio, was attacked and their equipment damaged in front of the staff by unidentified people carrying weapons.
  • 30 June 2019: Multiple journalists from South China Morning Post (SCMP), Stand News and Next Magazine were insulted and kicked during a rally in support of the police in the Admiralty area.
  • 12 June 2019: More than 12 incidents of assault against journalists were recorded in the Admiralty area, including 10 cases of police officers firing tear gas at close range.