Hong Kong media groups are to meet the commissioner of police on Thursday to discuss the controversial treatment of journalists during a dispersal operation in Mong Kok on May 10.
The Mother’s Day incident saw a crowd of people – including those wearing press vests – kettled and ordered to squat whilst officers repeatedly fired pepper-spray at them. Reporters were ordered to stop filming. It occurred hours after protesters gathered in shopping malls across various districts to chant slogans and sing songs advocating freedoms in the city.
Eight organisations jointly signed a letter to police chief Chris Tang, including the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), the Hong Kong Press Photographers Association (HKPPA), the Independent Commentators Association, Journalism Educators for Press Freedom, CitizenNews Staff Union, Ming Pao Staff Association, Next Media Trade Union, and the RTHK Programme Staff Union.
The statement condemned officers who “attacked, interfered and caused unbridled humiliation to journalists” on the night in question. It made six requests to the force: stop all “verbal and physical abuse” of journalists; suspend the officers involved in the Mong Kok incident; ensure officers abide by the “Police General Orders,” “Police Force Ordinance,” and “Police (Discipline) Regulations” and other rules; publicly apologise to the journalists injured and humiliated in the incident; stop making unfounded accusations of ‘fake journalists’ and ‘fake journalist IDs’; provide specified plans for improvement of the force.
The HKJA and HKPPA will meet Tang from 4pm to 6pm on Thursday, along with two non-signatories – the Hong Kong News Executives’ Association and Hong Kong Federation of Journalists – to discuss the points raised in the letter.
Journalist ‘lost consciousness’
Separately, the HKJA expressed shock at reports that police pepper-sprayed and snatched the camera of a female journalist for Ben Yu Entertainment, after she filmed them arresting two women in a public toilet on the same night.
At a press conference on Wednesday, the reporter – known only as KY – said officers had subdued her until she lost consciousness. She added the incident had affected her mental health and required her to take sleep medication.
The HKJA also said it had received complaints that police had blocked an ambulance’s access to the scene, delaying medical treatment to those affected by the operation.
Additional reporting: Rachel Wong