The beating of three Hong Kong journalists by riot police in China’s Xinjiang region has spurred outrage among media back in Hong Kong.
Hundreds of journalists marched from the Western Police Station on Hong Kong Island to the Chinese Liaison's Office on Sunday. They are calling for better protection for Hong Kong journalists working in mainland China.
The three journalists, from Hong Kong’s Now TV and TVB, were reporting on riots in Urumqi after a spate of syringe stabbings.
They say they were running to escape teargas when police tackled them. Police pinned them to the ground and beat them.
The director of the Xinjiang Government Information Office apologized for the beatings during a press conference last week. But she accused the journalists of refusing to show their press passes.
TVB journalist Liu Yongquan says he showed them his press pass right away, but police ignored it—and during the beating his pass eventually fell off.
His colleague, Now TV cameraman Lam Chun-Wai, says he can’t believe the way they were treated.
[Lam Chun-Wai, Now TV Cameraman]:
"Before I was beaten up I felt there were less restrictions for reporters and China was more open because I was stationed in Beijing and Shanghai before. I thought China was more open than before. After I was arrested I realized China remains like in the old days. Before, I didn't believe the negative reports and stories of injustice in China, but now I realize they're true."
The journalists say they were punched and kicked, then detained with hands tied behind their backs on Friday, September 4th.
Chairman of the Democratic Party in Hong Kong Albert Ho condemned the actions of authorities in Xinjiang.
[Albert Ho, Democratic Party Chairman]:
"We are very concerned that this unlawful repressive action by the public security bureau will not only cause injustice to the reporters, it will stifle the freedom of reporting and hence the freedom of imparting information.”
Others say this is a reflection of media freedom being further undermined in China.
[Ronald Tong, Legal Sector Legislator]:
"And I think this is getting worse and unless people were to stand up and say this is not acceptable, certainly not acceptable to modern China.”