Umbrella Revolution: erosion of impartial reporting, police beating footage, and truth seeking amid chaos

This is again, about Hong Kong’s fight for democracy. But it’s also about censorship, good journalism, and collective truth seeking. Things that matter to everyone. 

I’d understand if you’re bored. Bear with me.

Would I spend time reading about an ongoing student led protest in another country? Not necessarily. It’s too political, the issues and images repeat themselves after a while – students wanting dialogue, a government refusing to talk, peaceful protests occasionally turning violent due to provocation. Police’s inappropriate use of force. Waxing and waning support from the public, often dependent on how badly they’ve been economically affected by the protests.

But I’ll keep writing about it. Writing is as much about spreading awareness as it is for me to keep an accurate account. I will write about what I see and the facts I’ve gathered.

I write, because I’m witnessing the censorship that goes on in this city. Writing is documenting. I’d like to be able to recount, to my children and great-grandchildren, relatively accurately, what went on these past few weeks. I have first-hand accounts, photographic evidence, videos. My memory may eventually fail me. The hard evidence will stay relatively intact.

The first line of censorship is the main free Cantonese news channel, TVB. It’s one of the most popular news channels because they are a monopoly. Last year the government declined to give a television broadcasting license to TVB’s rival channel, HKTV (Real Hong Kong News delves deeper).

Early this morning TVB broadcasted a protester beaten up by 6 policemen in a dark corner. We see him in plastic-straps, dragged, then pegged to the ground while officers in rotation punch and kick him – the reporter said in the narrative accompanying the footage. TVB later stopped broadcasting parts of the narrative. There was a moment that morning where the anchor, Chow Ka Yee, had an obvious moment of doubt when reading her script.

Note – the video is unlisted. From the comments section, people are urging everyone to back up these video clips, as some clips have allegedly been deleted.

The second line of censorship: I find myself self-censoring what I write in email and what I say on forums, in fear of my words eventually being used against me by the police or government. There’s a concern that wasn’t there before. Regardless, I’ll continue to say what I have to say.

I didn’t have these fears before. Saying bad things about the government was never punishable. I grew up loving the police force. The tidy blue uniforms. The clean shaven hair. I have friends in the police force. It’s an efficient, clean, fair, law-loving agency that I respect.

But this respect is slowly being eroded.

In the midst of conflict it’s easy to lose sight of who’s on your side and who’s the enemy. I’ve seen footage of thugs mixing into the protesters to create chaos. Swearing and punching, provoking otherwise peaceful protesters to hit them back. Sometimes the police help. Sometimes they stand aside. I’ve seen footage of anti-protesters molest female protesters caught.

I don’t care which side you’re on. You can be pro-democracy, pro-protests; or pro-status quo, anti-protests. It doesn’t matter. I understand why some think this is about bored teenagers ruining the economic prosperity of Hong Kong.

The bottom line is – triad/thug provocation during peaceful protest is NOT OK. Opportunistically molesting female protesters in the midst of chaos in broad daylight is NOT OK.

6 policemen dragging a protester to a dark corner, then beating him up, is NOT OK.

I don’t know what went on in the minds of those officers in the wee hours this morning. Maybe they were exhausted. Maybe, on day 18 of the protests, they’re tired of being outnumbered, yelled at, challenged, hated. Some are doing 15 plus hour shifts, sometimes starve throughout the day on duty.

I’m sorry, policemen, that you’re all going through this.

But you CANNOT beat up an unarmed protester in a dark corner. THIS IS HONG KONG. You are better than that. The police force trained you to be better than that. Your standards are better than that. Even if that protester allegedly threw water at you. Even if he tried to provoke you. Under no circumstances were you given the power to punish him outside the law.

If and when traditional news channels lose their integrity, we will resort to independent journalism for seeking the truth.


Other blogs covering the Umbrella Revolution:

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