The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) urged mainland authorities to ensure the personal safety of Hong Kong journalists covering news events across the border and protect their legitimate right to perform their duties there.
The HKJA issued a statement of protest and indignation following two recent incidents in which Hong Kong journalists were manhandled while working in the mainland.
The Hong Kong Press Photographers Association voiced support to the statement, which also urged Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to express the concern of Hong Kong people over the incidents to Beijing authorities.
The Hong Kong News Executives’ Association issued a separate statement condemning the use of violence against journalists and any act obstructing their rightful work to report the news.
In the latest incident, a Now TV cameraman, Chui Chun-ming, was manhandled and arrested in Beijing while covering a hearing of a lawyers’ association in Beijing on Wednesday morning, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The hearing was to decide whether to revoke the license of a human rights lawyer, Xie Yanyi.
The incident heightened concern over the safety of Hong Kong reporters working in the mainland, as it happened right after i-Cable News reporter Chan Ho-fai was kicked and beaten by two men in China’s southwestern Sichuan province while reporting on the 10th anniversary of a deadly earthquake over the weekend.
According to Chui, who was detained for nearly four hours before he signed a statement of repentance and was released, he had voluntarily handed over his press pass twice to the police for inspection so that he could attend the hearing.
He gave his press card to the police a second time, but the officers did not return it to him. Chui became worried because he thought the police may leave the scene without returning his card. Agitated, he asked the police when they would return his pass.
As he tried to reason with the officers to get his pass back, Xie Yanyi, the rights lawyer, snatched the card from an officer and handed it to him, Chui said.
Chui was then wrestled to the ground, handcuffed and taken to a police station before he was taken to a hospital to have his injuries checked.
The journalist said the head of the police station asked him to sign a written repentance; otherwise, his press pass would be confiscated.
After learning of the incident, Now News condemned the rough treatment of its staff while HKJA representatives went to Beijing’s liaison office in Sai Wan on Wednesday afternoon to demand that Beijing authorities stop uncivilized acts and efforts to prevent journalists from performing their work in the mainland.
Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung stressed that the government attaches great importance to the safety of journalists when they carry out their duties anytime and anywhere, adding that the government’s office in Beijing has been instructed to call on relevant departments to assist the journalist concerned and address the matter as soon as possible.
Speaking to media in Guangzhou on Wednesday night, Lam expressed regret over incidents in the past few days where Hong Kong journalists were treated with violence while carrying out their duties in the mainland.
Lam stressed that Hong Kong media workers should be respected and their personal safety be safeguarded when reporting lawfully in the mainland.
The government contacted mainland authorities immediately after learning of the incidents, she said.
The chief executive also called on Hong Kong journalists working in the mainland and overseas to respect and abide by the laws and regulations there.
Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Secretary Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said the government quickly made representations with the Hong Kong & Macao Affairs Office of the State Council about the incident, and discussed possible measures that may be taken to further protect the safety of Hong Kong reporters across the border.
That said, Nip believed it would be best to let relevant mainland authorities look into the incident since it took place across the border rather than in Hong Kong.
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