Authorities in Hong Kong arrested a filmmaker on Tuesday in relation to her production of a recent TV documentary that detailed how pro-China mobs brutally attacked civilians during a peaceful anti-communist protest last year.
Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) confirmed the arrest of freelance filmmaker Choy Yuk Ling on Tuesday afternoon following the recent broadcast of an episode of RTHK’s Hong Kong Connection, which reported on the 2019 Yuen Long attack.
The incident, in August of last year, occurred at the tail end of a protest against increasing Chinese repression of the legally autonomous city. As black-clad protesters peacefully assembled to take the metro home, a mob of armed men dressed in white began attacking them, beating both protesters and bystanders in the area with bamboo sticks, metal pipes, and other rudimentary weapons. Police did little to protect the protesters; at least one pro-China lawmaker, Junius Ho, was seen chatting amicably with the attackers. Police later claimed that evidence suggested the attackers were members of triads, Hong Kong’s organized crime groups.
According to Radio Television Hong Kong, Choy had her home searched by police before being taken into custody. Her arrest was supposedly in connection with her illegal broadcasting of car license plates during the episode.
The episode of Hong Kong Connection aired on July 13; it received over 1.3 million views on YouTube. Its reporting analyzed surveillance footage to identify the alleged perpetrators of the attacks.
Using public records obtained by looking up vehicle license registrations provided by the Department of Transport, reporters visited the homes of those suspected of involvement in the attack, some of whom even held positions of leadership in Yuen Long.
In a tweet confirming Choy’s arrest, RTHK argued the documentary “revealed how police were patrolling the town before the rampage and took no action over the men wielding weapons.” RTHK chief Leung Ka-wing also told reporters that she was “worried about whether we can continue the way we produce accurate news as before.”
Choy’s arrest is emblematic of the rapidly decreasing freedoms of Hongkongers, who were promised autonomy by communist Chinese in 1997 following the handover from the British Empire in an arrangement known as “One Country, Two Systems.” China has aggressively backtracked on that commitment, particularly through its imposition of a “national security law” that effectively criminalizes all political opposition to Beijing through the criminalization of “subversion of state power.”
It is not the first time that RTHK, which is publicly funded, has faced interference or censorship from the country’s China-controlled authorities. In May, the channel was forced to suspend the comedy show Headliner, which has aired since 1989, over a parody it made of law enforcement. The following month, the broadcaster was also made to broadcast a 20-part series “embracing” the new “national security law” and China’s increasing control over the region.
As explained by the freedom of the press organization Reporters Sans Frontiéres, Hong Kong has also seen an increase in “violence against the media, mainly by the police and pro-Beijing criminal gangs, during the pro-democracy demonstrations in the summer and autumn of 2019 … The territory is supposed to enjoy separate status as a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China until 2047, but press freedom is already in retreat as a result of pressure from Beijing.”