HONG KONG—A female Hong Kong journalist was assaulted by the Beijing security staff on Dec. 10 while following the story of Chinese rights activist Zhao Lianhai, the founder of the small and informal rights group “Kidney Stone Babies.” The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) was livid at the abuse of the press, and accused Chinese police on the scene of acting as accomplices.
In 2008, melamine-tainted milk powder sickened (in some cases killing) infants across the country. Zhao, whose son was among the affected children, rallied victims' families to form Kidney Stone Babies. Their activities were suppressed and Zhao was arrested by Beijing police on Nov.13 2009, for "quarrelling and stirring up trouble."
Zhao was sentenced two-and-a-half years of imprisonment on Nov. 11. Recently, pro-Beijing media reported that Zhao has been released on health grounds.
More than 30 Hong Kong journalists went to Zhao’s house in Beijing on Dec. 10 to follow up on the story, but were blocked by a group of people with red armbands showing that they worked for local neighborhood committees. They swore and pushed the journalists around and tried to cover their camera lenses.
One female reporter, Teresa Wong Wai-Piu from Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) was assaulted by a female security guard of the subdivision; police stood by, declining to stop the violence against the journalists.
The HKJA published a statement condemning the incident. HKJA Chairperson, Ms. Mak Yin-ting, was angry. “They even refused to record the incident,” she said of the police. “We express our anger for their indifferent attitude and think that the local police’s behavior made them accomplices.”
As Hong Kong journalists are often harassed in the Chinese mainland, Mak thinks that the Hong Kong government and the Chinese Communist Party have never fully addressed the issues. “The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government and Liaison Office often just ‘investigate’ these incidents, but after their investigation, there’s nothing more… It is very clear that the Hong Kong government hasn’t done enough.” She stressed that the Hong Kong government should fight for the rights of its residents.
Several Hong Kong lawmakers condemned the violence. Legislator Albert Chan said, "The incident fully demonstrates that the Chinese regime from the top to the bottom, from the State Council to the public security, ignores human rights and freedom of journalism, which is what we must condemn.”
Legislator Leung Yiu-chung said that he hoped the world would pay attention to China's attacks on press freedom. “I hope the people in every corner of the world will come out and express their dissatisfaction.”
RTHK issued a statement on Friday evening saying they cannot accept journalists being treated with violence when trying to do their jobs; they urged the Chinese authorities to deal with it sternly.
Read the original Chinese article.