The Hong Kong Journalists Association, the Hong Kong Press Photographers Association, Independent Commentators Association and Journalism Educators for Press Freedom have issued a joint statement strongly condemning the Lufeng authorities’ brutal obstruction of Hong Kong journalists reporting on the Wukan villagers’ rights protection movement. The groups note that in recent years, Hong Kong journalists have been repeatedly subject to interference and brutal treatment at the hands of law enforcement agents and people of unknown identity while reporting in the Mainland. In this latest incident, the Hong Kong journalists were unreasonably and violently muzzled. The four groups call on the Hong Kong SAR government to follow up on the incident, to safeguard the personal safety of Hong Kong journalists, and to take effective measures to protect journalists’ reporting rights.
After the Lufeng authorities sent hundreds of police to crackdown on villagers in Wukan, Ming Pao, the South China Morning Post and Hong Kong We Media dispatched at least five reporters to cover the confrontation between police and villagers. According to one journalist, a group of what is believed to be plain-clothes police broke down the door at a Wukan villager’s, where the journalists were hiding. The men asked the journalists to kneel down, one of the journalists received a blow to the back of the head, one was punched and one was pushed to the ground. A villager tried to protect the reporters without success. Although the journalists did not offer any resistance throughout the episode, they were roughed up, cursed and sworn at. They were later driven to the Lufeng Public Security Bureau and detained until 03:00. Police demanded they sign letters stating they would never return to report in Lufeng and agreed not to report any news related to Wukan. They were then taken to Shenzhen and ordered to leave.
The four associations are deeply concerned that the repeated interference faced by Hong Kong journalists reporting in the Mainland, and the continuous decline of press freedom will affect the work of journalists. Although Hong Kong journalists have been repeatedly obstructed and subjected to violence, we have not seen the Hong Kong SAR government following up on the incidents, nor have mainland authorities offered any explanation. In this latest Wukan incident, authorities have not produced any rationale or explanation for their unreasonable detention and violent treatment.
The four associations call on the Hong Kong SAR government and the Central Government to tolerate such reprehensible actions, to safeguard the personal safety of journalists, and to bring the perpetrators to justice. At the same time, we hope the SAR government can reflect Hong Kong journalists’ concerns to the relevant authorities. We hope journalists can carry out their work without unnecessary restrictions, so as to ensure the public’s right to know. We also hope the Central Liaison Office can carry out its role as a bridge, to reflect journalists’ needs to the relevant authorities so that reporters can carry out their work.
Hong Kong Journalists Association
Hong Kong Press Photographers Association
Independent Commentators Association
Journalism Educators for Press Freedom
15 September 2016