|Police arrest a protester during a demonstration at Hong Kong's airport, Tuesday. Riot police moved into the terminal to confront protesters who shut down operations at the busy transport hub for two straight days. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)|
By Park Si-soo
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has called on Hong Kong authorities to stop violence against journalists covering the anti-extradition bill protests.
"Violence against journalists has now become systematic and clearly aims to discourage them from covering the protests," said Cedric Alviani, head of the RSF East Asia bureau, in a statement Tuesday.
He urged Hong Kong authorities to "terminate the violence against the press and launch an independent investigation into the past acts of brutality."
Dozens of Hong Kong-based and international journalists have been attacked and insulted by Hong Kong police or pro-China mobs while covering the protests since they began in June, according to the RSF.
In the most recent attack, on Aug. 11, two journalists from Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) and daily newspaper Ming Pao were physically attacked by a pro-Beijing mob in the North Point area, while a Stand News reporter was threatened.
For its part, the Foreign Correspondents' Club, Hong Kong (FCCHK), wrote a letter to Hong Kong Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai Chung on Tuesday expressing concern over the recent acts of violence.
At the center of the ongoing conflict is a bill that, if legislated, would make it possible for authorities to extradite Hong Kong residents or visitors, including journalists and their sources, to China.
Hongkongers fear authorities would use the law to target political enemies and it would signify the end of the "one country, two systems" policy, eroding civil rights enjoyed by residents since the handover of sovereignty from the U.K. to China in 1997.
In the RSF World Press Freedom Index, China's Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong has plummeted from 18th in 2002 to 73rd this year. China is ranked 177th out of 180.