Arrested - a humiliating experience as a police suspect

Kiri Choy, New Tang Dynasty Television Internship 

[中文][Aug 2011 - The Journalist] Journalism had me captivated while I was still a student. But it was not till I became an intern reporter that I began to understand the difficulties of upholding human values, especially in a money-oriented society.

The media itself is facing a massive challenge too, with some forced to give way at the expense of the public interest. It is absolutely important that the diversity of voices must not be choked.

When a high-ranking and powerful person speaks untruths,
we can only counter him with the truth.
With this thought in mind I set out to be the reporter to bring out the unvarnished truth. So I joined the New Tang Dynasty TV – a financially and politically independent TV station.

So on July 1 I went out to cover the annual protest march with precisely that purpose in mind: reporting the truth.

By evening many people had gathered at Connaught Road Central. I got there at 11 pm.

The police had linked arms, with the protesters completely surrounded. I had difficulty shooting pictures from outside the police cordon. An officer saw my difficulties and instructed two of the men to delink arms and let me through.

The two policemen did so and I got into the cordoned off area. I stayed there, shooting away till all the protesters were removed.

Fingerprinted and photographed

I did not sit down for a single moment while the whole operation was going on. After all the protesters had been removed, the commanding officer shifted his attention to where I was – with a whole bunch of journalists who had been – and still were busy recording the whole operation. He ordered his men to round up all the reporters and take them back to the police station, except those holding press cards. An officer asked for proof from a man next to me, and then he was gone. I was the next one queried. I said I was a reporter, but had forgotten to bring my press card due to a rush. The commander insisted that I be taken away. So I had to get into a police vehicle. It was 2 am.

The officer looking after me said a letter of confirmation faxed from my company would save me a lot of trouble. So I did as I was told and called colleagues to send the necessary confirmation. Two hours later the Aberdeen Division received the letter.

I asked if I could go but the officer said it depended on the CID. I asked how long I needed to wait. She said she did not know.

It was not until 6 am that I was told that I needed to give an affidavit. The policewoman keeping an eye on me told the affidavit officer that I had given proof of my status with a company document that said I was a reporter. Instead of questioning me about the previous evening's activities he asked for more personal information as well as my signature for the record.

After this was done there was more waiting. Then I was taken to an office for fingerprinting. I refused to sign the approval letter for this. But a police officer told me the fingerprinting and the letter of approval were unrelated. The former was necessary but the latter was for other personal information.

I had been cheated. I signed the approval letter. The officer also pressed my fingers to record their prints as well as that of the palms.

Finally I was taken to another office for front and side-view photographs while holding an A4-sized card with a serial number on it. I felt like I was being treated as a suspect throughout the whole process. It was thoroughly insulting.

Peace of mind in spite of accusations

I spent another two hours with the others who had been arrested and were awaiting bail. The officer in charge of me said I would have to pay a sum of money for bail, and asked how much I had on me at that moment. Then the officer told everyone we could go after signing the bail documents. I tried to argue why I did not want to sign but the effort was in vain. I ended up leaving at 11 am on July 2.

“Never go to these places to report again,” the arresting officer had seriously told me in the police car. Although I did not understand the link between her and my choice of reporting I, nevertheless, told her boldly: “I am going next time – with a press card with me – ok?” She was speechless.

People concerned about me have asked if I would give up journalism after such an experience. My reply was: “I will continue to do what must be done.”

For those who have chosen to give up, why did they begin on this journey to tell the truth in the first place? The biggest loss to society is when people who should fear are fearless while people who should stay the course courageously are overwhelmed by irrational fears.

My own beliefs have given me peace of mind and helped me to withstand groundless accusations. Why should I be afraid when I have not done anything wrong? The truth cannot be changed just because some people want it changed. Besides those eyewitnesses at the scene, there is also the sky and the earth to be my witnesses.

I suffered from the pressure. I only had truth with me when someone of high standing in society publicly departed from the truth and accused me for being one of the protesters. Hence this truthful account of what actually happened that night.

I sighed when I was sitting in the police station and looking around. What was I here for? I knew the answer too well. I was not here for myself. I was here for the people.

I hope you have benefited from this truthful account of what really happened that night.