Yesterday, the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) witnessed an unusual sight as they held a press conference following a series of city-wide protests regarding a controversial extradition bill. Photographers and journalists who attended the meeting were clad in various riot and protest gear, including high-visibility vests, helmets, gas masks and more following a request from the Hong Kong Journalist Association as a means of meta-protesting the HKPF’s treatment of citizens and journalists throughout the month-long protests taking place in the city.
Photojournalists in full protective gears attend police chief’s presser in protest of police violent treatment against the press during their clash with protesters who demand withdrawal of china extradition bill. (Sunny Mok/EYEPRESS) #press #police #ChinaExtradition pic.twitter.com/thOLnMDLUU
— EYEPRESS NEWS (@eyepressnews) June 13, 2019
The bill, officially called the ‘Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill’ was first published by the Government of Hong Kong on March 29. Immediately, the bill faced backlash, as Hong Kong residents, civil rights organizations, journalist organizations and foreign governments fear the bill will require the city and its residents to abide by Chinese law and subsequently subject them to a China’s court system if suspected of a crime, even if the individual has never stepped foot on Chinese territory.
Protests have been ongoing since the bill was first revealed, but on June 9, hundreds of thousands of protestors took to the streets of Hong Kong to object to the bill and call for for the resignation of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam. In the days following, the Hong Kong Free Press has reported the HKPF has used excessive force on photojournalists, journalists and protestors, including the use of more than 150 rounds of tear gas and multiple instances of firing bean bags at protestors.
The Hong Kong Journalist Association called on reporters to wear protective gear at a press conference with police chief Stephen Lo on Thursday to protest police’s treatment of journalists during clashes the day before.
— Hong Kong Free Press (@HongKongFP) June 13, 2019
The solidarity to show up to the press conference covered in riot gear came after the Hong Kong Journalist Association called upon the media to show up in protective gear, according to a report (tweet embedded above) from the Hong Kong Free Press.