An Indonesian journalist shot by Hong Kong police on Sunday while covering anti-Beijing protests says she has completely lost sight in her right eye.
Michael Vidler, a lawyer for the 39-year-old journalist Veby Mega Indah, said doctors treating Indah had revealed “the injury she received as a result of being shot by police will result in permanent blindness in her right eye”, according to a statement posted on the Hong Kong Journalists Association’s Facebook page.
The lawyer said the pupil of Indah’s eye had been ruptured by the impact of the shot. He said evidence gathered pointed to the projectile being a rubber bullet and not a beanbag round as originally thought.
He said Indah will file criminal complaints against the Commissioner of Police and the officer, plus civil litigation to seek redress.
The statement said the woman’s family is now in Hong Kong and by her bedside. Indah is an associate editor with Suara Hong Kong News who has lived in Hong Kong since 2012.
A previous news report said Indah was covering the protest on a bridge near Immigration Tower in Wan Chai while police were retreating. She was clearly identified as being a member of the press and with a number of other journalists at the time who were also wearing highly visible ‘media’ markings.
Frontline journalists covering the four months of protests have increasing concerns about risks amid the escalating violence and increasingly hostile reception from police.
On Tuesday, a number of reporters were hit with pepper spray, rubber bullets or bean bag rounds, while some even faced threats of being shot during police clearance operations in various districts. One was also arrested.
Two female reporters from Apple Daily were allegedly shot at several times by elite raptor officers while trying to cover the arrest of a female protester in Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon. The reporters squatted down and managed to avoid being hurt, but they were later pushed by officers with shields, who appeared to want to block their reporting.
A journalist surnamed Pang from the news website Local Press was arrested in Mong Kok. Pang filmed his arrest in a video that was streamed live on Facebook. In the video, police can be seen yelling at a group of journalists to leave the road and return to the sidewalk. It ends with a police officer grabbing Pang. Another video showed police taking his tripod away while dispersing the journalists.
Pang, like other journalists, wore a vest and a helmet that identified him as a reporter. He also wore a press pass on his neck.
But that did not protect him from being handcuffed and taken away by officers. He was later charged with unlawful assembly – but that was changed later to assaulting police, according to a statement from the Committee to Protect Journalists.
In Yau Ma Tei, a reporter from online news site Stand News was roughed up by police when he followed their instruction to retreat. An officer pushed his camera and put a headlock on him.
Another reporter from the same outlet was sent to hospital after being hit by a rubber bullet or sponge round in Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island.
Meanwhile, police pushed a photojournalist from HK01.com news site on the ground. He complained to a police media liaison officer on site, but was unable to get the warrant number of the officer who attacked him.
A spokesperson from Radio Television Hong Kong also said a police officer pointed his gun at a reporter when he was in Wong Tai Sin. And another photojournalist from the radio station was hit in the knee by a sponge round near Prince Edward MTR Station. The reporter was clearly identified as with a reflective vest and no protesters were in his vicinity.
Police officers and two reporters from a local broadcaster were also hit by corrosive liquid during violent scenes in Tuen Mun. The TVB reporters suffered injuries to their faces and hands.
The HKJA strongly condemned violence against frontline journalists. It urged the police and protesters not to maliciously obstruct their reporting.