A Hong Kong journalist has protested at a police press conference over the alleged mistreatment of reporters by officers.

As Police Public Relations Branch Senior Superintendent Kong Wing-cheung was speaking at Wan Chai police headquarters on Monday, freelance journalist Amy Ip read out a statement criticising officers for treating media staff violently at protests and blocking them from performing their duties.

Amy Ip protesting at police press conference
Amy Ip protesting at police press conference. Photo: Stand News.

“It causes serious damage to Hong Kong’s press freedom,” Ip said.

Ip pointed a flashlight at the police officials and said: “This is how you have treated us with your flashlights – so that we can’t see the evil deeds that you are doing.”

Police are often seen shining strobe lights at journalists as they perform arrests.

Amy Ip protesting at police press conference
Amy Ip protesting at police press conference. Photo: Stand News.

“Last night, multiple riot police officers blatantly blocked us from reporting, unreasonably pushed reporters and pulled off our gas masks, fired tear spray and rubber bullets at us – causing injuries to multiple reporters. A female journalist was unreasonably detained for seven hours after her identity was checked,” Ip said, in reference to Sunday’s unrest in Kowloon.

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The press conference was suspended as police top brass left the room. Police switched off the lights and closed the shutters at their podium, as Ip pointed two flashlights at the police slogan “We serve with Pride and Care.”

Police representatives demanded that Ip leave. Police employees ushered Ip away.

Amy Ip protesting at police press conference
Amy Ip protesting at police press conference. Photo: Stand News.

Some reporters staged a walkout afterwards, and were told by the Police Public Relations Branch to move into a separate room. Officers said that, if they chose not to enter the press conference room again, they would have to leave.

‘Completely unacceptable’

Ip told HKFP that she protested with other journalists because of the severity of how media staff were treated on Sunday, adding that she had the least burden because she was a freelance journalist.

She said she was beaten with a police baton on Sunday: “They forcefully removed the gas mask of an RTHK journalist. They fired rubber bullets at journalists… It is completely unacceptable,” she said.

She said that reporters were often pushed away when they tried to record footage of arrests.

may james arrest
Photographer May James accosted by police on Sunday. Photo: STP Media screenshot.

Ip said she protested when the officers were speaking, instead of at the beginning of the press conference, because she did not obtain the flashlights until the event was underway. It was not her goal to suspend the press conference, she said: “We just wished to do a gesture, and then we would leave.”

Mass protests have continued for 21 weeks with multiple reporters injured during the unrest. Veby Mega Indah, an Indonesian journalist who was shot in the face with a police projectile, will end up permanently blind in one eye, according to her lawyer.

A driver for Now TV was hit by a police projectile outside Mong Kok police station two weeks ago, before being detained and beaten by officers inside, according to the broadcaster.

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Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.