Hong Kong journalists warn of increased police violence against them

Journalists covering the protests in Hong Kong are facing increasing violence by police, according to media groups and reports from firsthand reporters.

A number of abuses have been reported, including being pushed and hit indiscriminately with pepper spray or tear gas by police officers, prompting the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents Club to renew requests for independent investigation.

Over the weekend, the club said it saw an increasing number of incidents involving police violence against journalists covering protests in Hong Kong, with attacks on increasingly serious journalists impeding their ability to work. Frontline journalists regularly wear reflective vests and press credentials when covering demonstrations.

The International Federation of Journalists has recorded more than 30 violent incidents against 9 journalists from June to late August, from police officers, spectators and even protesters on occasion.

Police peppered a group of reporters after they made several arrests on Saturday night, including journalist Holmes Chan, who broadcast the incident live to Hong Kong Free Press. Chan said police first pushed the group back and then used pepper spray on them without warning.

"At least one of those gusts hit me right in the face, arms and chest," Chan said. "I wore a reflective vest and had no face protection, except the helmet, which also said 'press'."

Despite being treated immediately by volunteer doctors, Chan said she had trouble keeping her eyes open and struggled to stay upright. He ended up in the emergency room with a "chemical eye injury".

In a separate incident on Sunday, police threw a tear gas grenade at a group of reporters, mostly from inside an unannounced subway station, burning the press jacket of an Australian photojournalist, Jared Stone, after it exploded.

The Hong Kong government agreed last week to withdraw an extradition project that sparked a summer of protests, but protesters want other demands to be met, including direct elections for city leaders and an independent investigation into police actions.

As protests escalate, police are increasingly using water cannons, tear gas, rubber bullets, bean bullets and severe beatings to suppress protests, as well as stalking protesters in residential areas, subway stations and even ferry piers. . Protesters threw Molotov cocktails at the police and vandalized and set fire to public facilities.

Police have been accused of hindering reporters' work, allegedly lighting bright lights or torches directly at photographers and video crews, according to Hong Kong photojournalist May James.

James, who says he was sprayed by police over the weekend while taking photos, has covered protests from the start and said that interactions with police have gradually deteriorated over the past three months, especially as journalists try to document arrests of protesters. government.

“I felt sorry for them [at the beginning of the protest], but now it looks like they have a lot of power,” she said. "There is a lot of anger at journalists."

Source: Guardian

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