Thu, Oct 01, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Journalists in Hong Kong condemn curb on press freedom

AFP , HONG KONG

More than 1,300 journalists in Hong Kong yesterday joined a signature campaign to condemn police brutality toward their colleagues reporting in China and urged authorities to respect media freedom.

In a full-page statement published in four local newspapers, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club encouraged authorities to investigate two recent incidents of alleged maltreatment of Hong Kong reporters in Sichuan Province and Xinjiang.

“The Sichuan and Xinjiang governments must punish those officials found to have committed wrongdoings, stop all oppressive actions against the media and publicly pledge to respect press freedom,” the statement said.

The move to defend reporters’ rights, the day before China celebrates 60 years of communist rule, comes after recent complaints by the HKJA that the city’s press is losing some of its much-cherished freedom of expression.

The statement also urged the Chinese government to scrap rules requiring journalists to apply for press permits before covering news in mainland China.

On Sept. 4, a Hong Kong television reporter and two cameramen were reportedly tied up, beaten and detained by police while covering protests in the Xinjiang capital, Urumqi.

Xinjiang government spokeswoman Hou Hanmin (侯漢敏) voiced regret over the incident, but accused journalists of inciting unrest.

In an unusual show of solidarity by Hong Kong’s press, more than 700 journalists then marched in the city on Sept. 13 in protest.

In another incident, Chinese authorities detained and then released a Hong Kong TV journalist in August while she was covering the trial of a rights activist in Sichuan.

HKJA chairwoman Mak Yin-ting (麥燕婷) said the campaign was aimed at airing frustration about Beijing’s lack of action following their protest.

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