Violence against journalists escalates in Hong Kong

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges the Hong Kong authorities to protect journalists covering protests against violence by the police and the mobs.

As four five journalists were assaulted in the North Point area on Sunday August 11th, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Hong Kong authorities to put an end to the violence against the press. In the past two months, journalists covering the anti-extradition bill protests were increasingly the victim of intimidation and physical abuse by the police as well as pro-Beijing mobs (see the events in chronological order below).

“Violence against journalists has now become systematic and clearly aims to discourage them from covering the protests,” says Cédric Alviani, head of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) East Asia bureau, who urges the Hong Kong authorities to “terminate the violence against the press and launch an independent investigation into the past acts of brutality.”

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong (FCCHK) wrote yesterday a letter to Hong Kong Commissioner of Police, Stephen Lo Wai Chung, expressing concern over the recent acts of violence.

Since early June, Hong Kong has seen massive demonstrations against a bill that would allow authorities to extradite residents or visitors, including journalists and their sources, to China. Two weeks ago, RSF wrote to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, detailing five proposals to restore full press freedom. 

In the RSF World Press Freedom Index, China’s Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong has plummeted from 18th in 2002 to 73rd this year. China itself is ranked 177th out of 180.

Attacks against journalists in the past two months

  • 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.

Published on
Updated on 14.08.2019