Veby Mega Indah, 39, is now permanently blind in the right eye after getting shot with what is believed to be a rubber bullet during the confrontation in Wan Chai on Sept. 29.
Indah is an associate editor of Suara Hong Kong News, an Indonesian-language publication based in the city.
A journalist for 13 years, she arrived in Hong Kong in 2012 and has since covered stories highlighting the rights of Indonesian migrant workers.
1650, an Indonesian reporter interviewed on the footbridge of Gloucester Road in Wan Chai was shot in the right eye. #929GlobalAntiTotalitarianism #HKPoliceTerrorism #StandWithHongKong pic.twitter.com/5raKEEiJPG
— kit (@yukisuet1) September 29, 2019
Footage of the confrontation shows Indah wearing a high-visibility jacket, a helmet labeled “press” and protective goggles as she stands alongside other journalists covering the event.
She then falls to the ground after being struck with the police projectile.
While Indah has forgiven the officer who left her blind, she is determined to pursue legal action to compel the Hong Kong Police Force to name him.
“I am pursuing justice in this case not only for me but for all the injured people in Hong Kong who cannot do the same,” she told the South China Morning Post.
Unchecked #PoliceBrutality is a crime. Shot in her right eye and suffering from permanent sight loss, Indonesian journalist Veby Mega Indah told @StandNewsHK that she decided to sue #HKpolice for justice, not only for her, but for #Hongkongers. #PoliceState pic.twitter.com/4hhhQswAkz
— Demosistō 香港眾志 😷 (@demosisto) December 3, 2019
Indah is represented by human rights lawyer Michael Vidler and has reportedly applied for legal aid.
“Doctors treating Ms. Indah have today informed her that regrettably the injury she received as a result of being shot by police, will result in permanent blindness in her right eye,” Vidler said after the incident, according to the Hong Kong Free Press. “She was informed that the pupil of her eye was ruptured by the force of the impact. The exact percentage of permanent impairment can only be assessed after surgery.”
Suara has since condemned the incident in a statement, saying that Indah “clearly could not have been mistaken for a protester.”
“Veby is an experienced and dedicated journalist, with unswerving commitment to her craft,” the publication asserted. “This should not have happened. Police are required to assist the press and not obstruct them in any way – especially not shoot at them.”
Indah is expected to take civil action and private prosecution against the responsible officer.
“We shall be filing applications in the High Court to force the Commissioner [of Police] to reveal the identity of the perpetrator in order that a private prosecution can be laid against the perpetrator,” Vidler announced on Oct. 11. “We shall also be seeking declarations from the court that the failure of the Commissioner to suspend the officer and investigate him, are unlawful.”
Indah, whose left eye has since grown exhausted, is uncertain about returning to work as a journalist.
“The first thing that got into my mind was ‘God, I was hit.’ That time, honestly, I thought it’s going to be my end,” she told SCMP. “I hope there will be justice, so the officer who shot me will face consequences according to the law, so police officers understand what they cannot do.”
However, Indah is not the only person to receive an eye injury in the Hong Kong protests. On Aug. 11, a female protester fell to the ground after being shot by a suspected bean bag round in the right eye, eventually becoming a symbol of the pro-democracy movement.