International journalist Paula Bronstein of Getty taken away by Hong Kong Police

FCC issues notices expressing concern over tampering of press freedom in Hong Kong.

HK news footage shows Paula Bronstein, Getty Images award winning journalist, taking photos atop a private car in Mong Kok. Police officers approach her, ask her to come down from the car, and take her away. She voiced out her press identity to the police before she was taken away.

Foreign Correspondents’ Club FCC notices:

http://fcchk.org/article/protest-mongkok

http://fcchk.org/article/fcc-condemns-attacks-journalists-covering-h-k-protests

Paula Bronstein:
http://awards.gettyimages.com/awards.cfm?display=photographer&photographerID=60

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27 comments on “International journalist Paula Bronstein of Getty taken away by Hong Kong Police

  1. I don’t know what kind of special right journalists have but I don’t think it is a good idea to step on someone else car to take a shot. I am sure everything were captured by hundreds of smartphones from the students anyway.

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    • True. I don’t agree with stepping on someone else’s car. I’d be pissed off if it were my car. Though generally speaking, there’s a concern about how journalists are being treated by the police, and HK journalists and the international community are concerned journalists’ rights of free reporting are being infringed.

      An open letter from the HK Journalists Association gives examples:
      http://www.hkja.org.hk/site/portal/Site.aspx?id=A1-1284&lang=en-US

      How police should treat journalists during press coverage is found in the Police General Order:

      “All officers at the scene of an incident shall:
      – facilitate the work of the news media as much as possible and accord media representatives consideration and courtesy; and
      – not block camera lenses.”

      http://www.police.gov.hk/info/doc/pgo/en/Epgo039.pdf

      The blocking camera lenses I’ve seen on TV – it was of a reporter camera recording live scene footage. There have also been incidences where reporters have been told off by police during reporting.

      You’re welcome to conduct your own research too.

      My post’s aim was to quickly share the news that Paula, a journalist, was taken away – if it was merely because she was stepping on a car, the response is inappropriate. A warning would have sufficed. I’m sure there were plenty of people during the commotion doing other more serious things that garnered arrest.

      Liked by 1 person

      • There are lots of video of the protests in youtube because these students used their phones to record everything, it was quite a scene. I bet even if a cop picked his noise, it would be taped. In many of these clips, you can see the cameras are too close (hard to tell who are protesters and who are journalists). I can see a safety concern right there, many journalist even got pepper sprayed because they are mixed in the protesters.

        As for Bronstein’s case, the car owner behaved like normal people and got pissed off and complained to the police. So it makes sense to me that Bronstein was asked to leave. If the car owner didn’t file a claim by now and she still got charged or detained. Then I see a problem there. Just to be fair… btw I don’t know the latest status of Bronstein.

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        • I don’t see a problem with protesters taking videos. Thank goodness for the age of technology where everything CAN be recorded – there is more transparency. Thank goodness reporters took a video of policemen beating up an unarmed protester – allowing us to see an example of the police’s abuse of power. Thank goodness videos of women protesters being molested were captured – lest those victims decide to bring the crime to court.

          Journalists obviously put their personal safety at risk when they at on site trying to document events as they unfold. But issue comes when police, knowing that someone is a journalist – with a clear press vest, badge or huge video camera – spray, hit, verbally threaten, or detain him. These incidences have happened.

          Journalists are just trying to do their job.

          I don’t understand your point re safety concern. There are wars going on around the world – thank goodness for journalists’ work that we know about these wars. Journalists are also important of uncovering crimes against humanity and other human rights abuses. They document so that there’s evidence of such, and justice after the fact can be carried out.

          Are you saying that due to safety concerns journalists shouldn’t report?

          Bronstein wasn’t just asked to leave. If that was the case it wouldn’t make international news. She was detained overnight. And yes the car driver apparently complained to the police. But if a man blatantly molesting a women (captured on video) was not detained by police during the protests I don’t see why a journalist momentarily atop a car taking photos should be. The response was inappropriate given the circumstances – that’s why it made the news and caused concern.

          Paula was released this morning circa 7am.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Pixie, I found below article, I have no way to verify but if the article is correct, the car owner did lodged a complain so I guess they didn’t have much choices. I am sure the cops would convince the car owner to drop the case, they have enough problems to deal with already. Basically the entire HKPD is overtired by the recent protests. I hope the protest will end soon or bad accident is posed to happen when everyone is emotional, tired and stressed for a extended period of time.
    http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/1025513-paula-bronstein-arrest-getty-photojournalist-detained-while-covering-hong-kong-occupy-central-protests-photo/

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    • ac thanks for sharing this. But I would read Epoch Times with a huge grain of salt – they’re a very pro Beijing “newspaper” with heavy propaganda, and this paper is freely distributed in all major public transport points in HK – distributors actually shove the paper into your hands, if you’ve ever passed by an MTR station. I wouldn’t take their “reporting” too seriously. Though yes, there was a complaint from the driver – no dispute about that and all the major news agencies have reported that.

      As to overtired police officers – agree. Not saying they aren’t and I truly admire those who work 15-20 hour shifts and are just trying to do their jobs.

      I equally condemn those policemen who release their anger and violence at protesters.

      The heart of the problem is that people want a dialogue with the government. The government isn’t willing. Until there’s effective dialogue police and citizens will be against each other.

      Also, police should be independent – but if they’re used as a political tool to intimidate and disrupt otherwise peaceful protests – such as the forceful clearance of Mong Kok protesters early yesterday morning – there will only be more animosity and distrust between citizens and police.

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      • Same here, I condemned those cops that failed to control their emotion but I also feel bad for vast majority of the cops that worked hard to protect everyone but being constantly provoked by the protesters. Like the beating occurred on Thursday that widely published in the West, if “the protester” didn’t poured some liquid to the cops from above first, the incident would not happen but at the end the cops violated their conduct and should face the justice, just hope they can keep their jobs. They were from Organized Crime Unit and re-assigned to assist Tactical Unit due to the protest.

        I don’t agree that the police is used as a political tool. The protest is not peaceful as you think (see below clips), the second one was taken before the first tear gas, there was a first part of the copyrighted video that shows a cop pepper sprayed a middle-age guy inappropriately, but that video also shows the thousands of protesters challenging the defense line first and poking with their umbrellas to the cops first. So cops are merely responding as their standard protocol. This is how protests are handled here in the west too, we just had one in March. Think about it, do you think HK gov really want to see the protest become violence or lost their live? That will only make the situation worse. Think about who will benefit from this situation. HK is badly divided right now, there are lots of complains from the other side which rarely covered by the west. If democracy is the problem, then why HK was a success without democracy under UK? Just something to think about…

        Video here and here.

        We will find out more about Bronstein eventually, HK is not China. Everything follows familiar law and order as in the West. They can’t hide the truth. If the car owner indeed lodged a complain, then FCC is over-reacted.

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      • Thanks ac. For every video that you show of a violent protester I can show you an equal number if not more about the police’s inappropriate or overuse of force. I will not do that, because there are plenty of examples on YouTube, Now TV, TVB, Apple Daily etc. Plus that’s not the purpose of my post.

        I appreciate your responses but this long discourse is crowding my original post. My intention was to spread awareness about press freedom, and the infringement of such, and in particular, the detainment of Paula Bronstein as the events unfolded last night.

        You can, start a blog of your own (your blog address isn’t listed in your name so I’m not sure if you have one already) or write an article and provide the link to my blog. I welcome opposing comments and think it’s an important part of the discussion, but not at the expense of crowding my post. I’m not sure if you’re a WordPress user but there is certain etiquette that should be followed.

        I am beginning to understand your perspective and appreciate it – it appears you come from a perspectively empathetic to the police. But we must not ignore, or diminish, the violence that the police have carried out on unarmed protesters. These are captured on video footage, and reported widely, in the local news. The international news will have their perspectives, but bottom line is every major news channel and paper that counts in HK has uncovered stories about police’s misuse of violence.

        There is also a different standard of behaviour for police officers and citizens. While both should abide by the law the police have an extra set of codes and orders that regulate how they act, especially in times of crisis. This is because the police also enjoy certain powers that citizens don’t. This distinction must be made. The same can be said of other professions, such as lawyers, doctors, nurses, accountants etc – there are professional codes and standards that must be followed due to the nature of their work.

        There is obviously much political divide in the current situation. I appreciate we may hold differing views how events have unfolded, on whether the protests are right, should continue, etc.

        But ultimately, this is my blog and it’s my views that I’m representing. Currently, my view is that police have mis-used their power on multiple occasions and Paula Bronstein’s detainment was merely one example of this. The FCC did not overreact. The Hong Kong Journalists Association has equally published an open letter condemning the infringement of press freedom (link in my comment above), citing different incidences and other reports of violence. Are you going to call out every press agency that issues an open letter condemning the same?

        Also, the “unidentified liquid” that the protester sprinkled on the police offers, is widely known as and agreed to be, “water”. Calling it “unidentified liquid” is bordering on distorting the truth. Such can be said of the police saying they weren’t “clearing” out the protesters in Mong Kok when they were equipped with chainsaws, knives, and wearing full gear with armour, tearing down the protesters’ tent, taking down their built structures and threatening they were illegally gathering. It was, as clear as daylight, a forceful clearance. All the while the police yelled that it wasn’t a clearance.

        Substance over form. You can say one thing to defy the truth, but citizens aren’t dumb – they have eyes to see what’s really happening.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Also, I’ve embedded your two videos as links in your post – the two originally fully displayed videos took up too much room. Please be considerate and mindful of the space on this blog when posting, and link your videos accordingly.

        I was going to show you a video via Apple Daily about police beating protesters – but the site has been hacked. Just another example of potential infringement of the press/censorship.

        https://pixiedustbeach.wordpress.com/2014/10/18/apple-daily-hacked/

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I missed your post at 10:10, good to see Bronstein was released. But if the car owner lodge a complaint, that cannot be considered a mis-used of their power. At best you can say the cops aren’t smart enough, they could have closed their eye but if the car owner persists, there is not much they can do. As for the molestation, I know there is one confirmed case from an old guy and he was arrested. Do you know why there are more female cops since last week including the two who took Bronstein away? Because there are too many molestation complaints, one female protesters actually lodged two complaints in two days! I have no problem with the cameras but check out the first clips. I am surprised the cops didn’t get blinded by the flashes. Looks at the number of cameras and the distance, which is scary. Do you live in the west or HK? Did you see how protests are cracked down in the west? If you live in Canada, there was one just back in Spring this year. HK Police is considered “nice” in comparison.

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    • Agree that HK cops are generally nicer but protesters are also very peaceful compared to those in North American – there’s no looting, arson or throwing rocks as you usually see in protests (not in HK).

      Protesters generally sit, are unarmed, are predominantly students and have been extremely peaceful. Which is precisely what caught the headlines of local and international news. Save for news in mainland China which have been falsely depicting protesters as thugs and troublemakers. But we all know that there isn’t press freedom there and everything, from search engines to news channels, are state controlled and censored.

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  4. not really, tear gas, rubber bullet were used just this April on a student protest in Quebec to clear the street. One other year, I remember they were throwing…..snow balls to the cops. Tear gas was used almost every time. The protocol is if the protestors challenge the defense line or receive order to clear the protesters, the cops have to control the scene with least amount of force, usually means pepper spray, taser shot and tear gas if protesters refuse to leave.

    I noticed you are from HK, so I understand your situation. But just a food for thought, I showed the 1st video clip to a cop, he isn’t a riot police but his initial response is holy crap, this could get ugly if the cops pull out their guns. Don’t they have tasers? I do give credits to many peaceful protesters. It’s alright to fight for democracy but do realize HK is part of China, learn more about the history of CPC and become a better negotiator. All they really care is they won’t allow people with opposite view become a CE, esp those who keep asking CPC to end its regime, sound logical to me. I see there is hope to change the nomination committee to accommodate selective mild democrats when dust is settled. Don’t expect citizen nomination, even Canada doesn’t have it, heck we can’t even vote for our Prime Minister but that’s another story. Anyway, Good Luck to everyone in HK, stay calm and stay safe!

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  5. Paula Bronstein showed no respect to property and no sensitivity to culture. What makes she think she has the right to stand on any car that is not her own or a press car? If the owner of the vehicle was sitting inside, couldn’t she have asked for permission. The arrogance is staggering.

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    • Not an unfair observation. I expressed that I too would be pissed if someone stood on my car. Though the issue is one of appropriateness – whether in the circumstances, given a number of other severities happening in the surroundings, including beatings, was arrest warranted. In my view no. If only days ago police officers beating a citizen in a dark corner, evidence caught on tape, have not yet been arrested, I don’t see why a journalist standing on top of a car taking photos should be.

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      • The policemen in question have been suspended from duty. They have crossed the line. Yet the amount of abuse the force had received over the last 18/19 days, and continue to receive, calls for some mitigation.

        It pains me incredibly that people seem to overlook the provocation and transgression, then pretend innocence. Hey, he pushed me. Yes, but did you push him first? It’s saying the obvious that the protesters are behaving like juveniles.

        Thank goodness, I am not in the force, I would have been a disgrace having given tit for tat much earlier!

        Like you, I would be quite pissed if anyone should stand on my wheels.

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        • “Suspension from duty” is much less severe than being arrested. We were discussing reaction as a matter of degree – whether a journalist’s detainment was appropriate. Given policemen who used violence and were caught on tape, and subsequently identified, were not arrested, I don’t see why a journalist stepping on a car should. The treatment was disproportionate.

          I don’t disagree that provocation exists by protesters, and caused policemen grief. But one also can’t generalise by a few misbehaving protesters to represent all. Have you been to the protests? Have you seen the massive behaving crowd, the ones who sit and gather peacefully? The ones who stand still despite being provoked with pepper spray and some policemen losing their tempers on them?

          For those that provoke and feign innocence, I have nothing to say but shame. But those are the minority. The majority don’t play dirty.

          precisely – had you been in the force you would have received special training on crowd control and anger management. There’s a reason for stringent guidelines on how police should act. Doctors and nurses, for instance, are under immense pressure too. But they don’t release their frustrations on patients – that’s not professional. Same logic goes with policemen. Not to say that justifies provocation. But being angry isn’t an excuse for losing your temper, and subsequently abusing your power. Maybe that’s why you didn’t choose to be a policeman. Tit for tat doesn’t work in this profession.

          I’m glad we agree on not wanting our wheels not being stomped on.

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  6. Pingback: Signs for freedom | Pixie Dust Beach

  7. I haven’t been following the incident in question, but I did want to commend you on your professionalism in dealing with the first commentator, whose posts were beginning to border on trolling. You have conducted yourself in a truly admirable fashion, which is probably why I follow this Blog in the first place. Keep up the good work, I’ll read you later.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the kind words. I’m still relatively new and learning the ropes. While I welcome different views I also think it’s important to control your own blog. Hope to see you again!

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    • you are not suggesting I was trolling, right? I merely spoke my opinion that stepping on someone else car is not a good idea, even as a journalist, especially the owner was in the car and formerly complained to the cops.

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      • I think your comment was fair re the car. Paula shouldn’t have stepped on someone’s car and as mentioned above I would have been pissed too if someone stepped on my car.

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      • If you had persisted in repeating a point that had already been answered at least three times, then I might have suggested you were trolling. As it was, I believe I used the phrase “beginning to border on”. It’s rather strange that you see nothing wrong with repetitious comments on your part, but you appear to be upset by a single perceived insult that never even occurred. A little thin-skinned perhaps.

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        • This is really stupid as I was very tired from work today but I hate to be accused of trolling or “border” on trolling. I was merely responded to OP replies. Below is a summary of all the posts between OP and me. If you consider I am in the border of trolling, then OP is in the border of inviting trolling base on your logic. Obviously I don’t view OP as such person.

          October 18, 2014 @ 2:51 am: I don’t think stepping on the roof of an occupied car is a good idea.

          OP said he partially agree but thinks many journalists were mistreated by HK Police.

          October 18, 2014 @ 9:44 am, I replied to him I don’t see anything wrong, especially if the owner of the car filed a complaint.

          October 18, 2014 @ 10:04 am, I confirmed the car owner indeed lodged a complaint. So there is no wrong doing from HKPD.

          October 18, 2014 @ 10:10 am, OP put up another lengthy reply and ask me a question.

          October 18, 2014 @ 10:19 am, OP said Epoch Times is biased and changed the topic and said HKPD is used by HK gov as political tool.

          October 18, 2014 @ 10:55 am, in response to OP’s new opinion, I tried to remind readers to think who would benefit from the prolong protests, not the cops, not HK gov. I also show two clips that shows the other side of the story.

          October 18, 2014 @ 11:24 am AND 11:45 am, OP disagreed with the video and realized he derailed the topic and tried to end the discussion in a professional manner. But then OP couldn’t stop until few more lengthy paragraphs to shows HKPD is wrong.

          October 18, 2014 @ 12:05 pm, I reminded OP the car owner lodged a complaint. The car owner is not from either side of the protest, if the cop didn’t do anything, people has legitimate reason to accuse HKPD for not doing their work. I also point out that HKPD is considered “nice” when compared cops in US and Canada. My point is HKPD did nothing drastically different than others in the West.

          October 18, 2014 @ 12:20 pm, OP disagreed…… they said Western protesters are violence in comparison.

          October 18, 2014 @ 1:23 pm: I reminded OP that the student protests in Quebec, Canada this April and last year were peaceful too.

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      • Hi ac, it’s reasonable to say you were not merely expressing dismay at Paula the journalist stepping on someone’s car. You were also showing support for the police’s overall actions during the protests, and disagreeing with the students recording everything (I think that’s what you meant by saying something as minor as a policeman picking his nose would get recorded). I think you also implied that it’s journalists’ fault if they get hurt during reporting, especially in chaos. These points I disagree with and have outlined my reasons above.

        I don’t think dbp49 meant to attack you. He is expressing that such commenting behaviour could be perceived as ‘almost’ trolling. While there’s no set definition of what trolling means, where someone has a very strong opposing view and continues to comment vigorously, and if it becomes clear that the goal is not to have a conversation but merely to drown out any opposing views, that would be trolling. I don’t think you were. That said, if there continued to be multiple youtube videos crowding my comment section, opposing news sources but of questionable quality, and/or long dissertation like replies, then yes, I would have an issue with that and will monitor.

        Bottom line is every blog has a owner, and that owner has his/her viewpoint and value system. Those values are reflected in the writing, in the choice of topic and the angle in which a story is to be told. While journalists aim to objectively report an event, that is what the blog (at least this blog) is not. My intent on sharing Paula’s story was to show concern about how journalists, and more widely, press freedom is being (mis)treated in Hong Kong.

        I take the quality of news sources seriously, especially nowadays when you have State news agencies like “Ren Min Ri Bao” widely reporting falsities, viral photos of the protests being depicted as national celebrations, and the general censorship of what mainland Chinese people can read over the internet. Epoch Times is not a good quality paper, if it even can be classified as a newspaper. I wouldn’t use it as a source and take anything I read with a grain of salt and a very critical eye. In general, we must understand who owns the news company, how independent its journalists are, and whether the news agency has had a history of tampering with the objectiveness of reporting.

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        • Hi pixie, I don’t disagree that I am supporting the police because I don’t see they did anything unusual except the “7 cops” and I actually showed the two video to a cop in the West and he thinks the protesters are nuts, however I agree with you that most protesters are peaceful protesters.

          I did not say what Paula did is wrong, I only say it is not a good idea. If she did that, then face the consequence, and she did so all is fine with me. If she felt that she was being mistreated, then lodge a complaint to HKPD and write an article about that. I don’t want anyone to get hurt, whether he/she is a protester, a visitor, a residence or the police. Wild things can happen in an illegal protest, two journalists was arrested in a McDonald in Ferguson, St Louis because they were “too slow” to show the ID!

          As for epoch, I don’t care if it is left or right, all I want to know is if there was a formal complaint from the car owner. If there was, than the cops did absolutely nothing wrong. At best, you can only argue that the cops didn’t try enough to convince the car owner to drop the charge.

          I respect your opinion, so let’s agree to disagree. I am posting again because I have to defend myself. I don’t live in HK anymore so really this mess won’t affect me at all but I feel sad to see the polarization in HK. This is bad for both HK and China.

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        • Let’s just chill. No need to let the emotions run. I think you’ve said enough.

          Agree that polarisation isn’t good for the city. But neither is police abuse of power, government officials’ corruption, and the infringement of the freedom of expression. If you have been on the ground, at the frontlines of the protests, you would have seen more police violence. Official news channels broadcasts those incidences almost every other day. It wasn’t merely the 7.

          Like

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