Response from Zi Teng – Suppression of sex workers’ film festival by the law enforcement department

Zi Teng organized the First Hong Kong Sex Workers’ Film Festival in August, such event was being oppressed by the law enforcement department. We issued a joint statement. We appreciate the endorsement, concern, and the support from various friends and organizations on the statement. The Police Department and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department had already replied us about their actions. However, we are extremely discontented with the replies from the above 2 departments.

1. The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department replied that “The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department visited the Zi Teng Center because of the duty to execute the said regulation (Places of Public Entertainment Regulations), which is also our purpose to visit the Zi Teng Center on 11-8-2006.”

It is well known that many other organizations also organize similar movie exhibition (including youth centers, women’s groups and other community organizations), but the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department never applies the same ordinance on the said activities. It selectively applies the ordinance on the Zi Teng film festival, suppressing the activity of the marginalized. The reply from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department did not explain why only the movie exhibition organized by Zi Teng was selected for law enforcement. We are very discontented that the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department tried to use law to oppress the freedom of speech and association, and limiting the space for public discussion on sex work. These actions are very degrading.

2. The police replied that “The Zi Teng staff was satisfied with the action taken by the uniformed police officer attending the scene. Let me stress that the Force has always highly respected the freedoms of press, speech and gathering which lay the cornerstone of Hong Kong’s success.”

During the film festival, Police Department repeatedly interfered with our work, and we expressed our discontents to the police over this many times. Nonetheless, the police did not explain for their interference in the reply. The Police Department wasted a lot of resources to suppress the marginalized group, but put off the investigation into the misconduct of police officers. For example, the Police keeps on allowing undercover agents to receive free masturbation service, they failed to report on the investigation into the suicide of Li Yuen-yee, who jumped to her death for the misuse of power by the police a year ago. We are very discontented with the police interference in the sex workers’ film festival.

This incident clearly showed that the said departments discriminatively took discriminatory and selective law enforcement actions, suppressing the activity of the marginalized, suppressing the freedom of speech and association. We are very angry and discontented with the unrepentant attitudes of the Hong Kong law enforcement departments.

We reiterate that we will keep on safeguarding sex workers’ rights regardless of suppression, eliminating the suppression and discrimination against sex workers.

Zi Teng (sex workers concern organization)