In another dire week for media in Hong Kong, one journalist was seriously injured by a projectile fired from a police shotgun and others were subjected to pepper spray as ongoing violence by police continued. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliates, the Hong Kong Association of Journalists (HKJA) and Alliance of Independent Journalists Indonesia (AJI) condemn the latest attacks on local and international journalists covering events in Hong Kong.
Indonesian journalist Veby Indah was shot in the face with a rubber bullet fired by a Hong Kong police officer. The attack took place at a protest on September 29, despite the fact that Veby was wearing a ‘Press’ high visibility vest and protective helmet, with a bullet striking her protective eye goggles, seriously damaging her right eye. Veby received emergency medical treatment at the scene and was admitted to hospital. Since the attack, HKJA reported that she had been permanently blinded from the rubber bullet attack.
Reports of police attacking the media have been ongoing since the start of the Hong Kong protests in June 2019. On June 17, 26 journalists testified about abuse by police officers during the protests. Since then, the IFJ has reported that of the 53 media violations recorded during the protests, at least 14 came from police directly assaulting journalists.
In Causeway Bay, a photojournalist Lam Chun Tun, of Initium Media, was pepper sprayed in the face by a police officer. According to the statement issued by Initium Media, he was taking photos away from the crowd, with no protestors near him. Standing News reported to HKJA of another journalist at Causeway Bay being shot by an unknown projectile and sent to hospital for treatment. HKJA noted several other incidents of journalists from Standing News being attacked, including a reporter who was shot in the leg. HKJA stated a journalist from Radio Television Hong Kong was hospitalised after being hit by an unknown object.
More incidents have been reported by HKJA, including rioters using corrosive liquid to injure journalists and photographers.
The Guardian reported that Pang Pui Ying, a reporter for a Chinese-language news website Local Press, was accused of unlawful assembly and arrested. The journalist was released on bail on October 2.
In its statement HKJA said “some police officers were arrested”.
HKJA said: “Anyone who threatens or attacks frontline journalists at the interview site will seriously interfere with the freedom of the press and will also weaken the public’s right to know. The Association strongly condemns all acts of violence against frontline journalists and urges the police and demonstrators not to obstruct the normal interviews.”
Chairman of IFJ’s Indonesian affiliate, Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Indonesia, Abdel Manan, said: “We strongly condemn a shooting attack on Veby while doing her job as a journalist. The government of Hong Kong needs to give the clarification and find those responsible for the incident. We demand an investigation and law enforcement to bring those responsible to justice. The authorities also must ensure the safety of journalists.“
The IFJ said: “We condemn the ongoing and serious attacks on journalists reporting in Hong Kong. These attacks have been carried out by police and rioters, causing serious injuries. Hong Kong’s authorities have a legal obligation to protect journalists and to ensure freedom of expression can be exercised in Hong Kong. The drastic increase of journalists being attacked in the last week is deeply concerning to the IFJ and the global community.”