Asia-Pacific statement of solidarity on Hong Kong from IFJ affiliates & media unions

We, the undersigned media freedom organisations and journalist unions in the Asia Pacific region, strongly condemn the threats against press freedom, independent media and the erosion of democracy following the imposition of national security legislation in Hong Kong by the Beijing authorities.

A commuter holds a copy of the Apple Daily newspaper while gesturing the pro-democracy slogan “five demands, not one less” inside a train on August 11, 2020. Credit: Isaac Lawrence/AFP

Although freedom of the press is guaranteed by Hong Kong’s Basic Law, recent developments in Hong Kong are deeply disturbing and critically undermine the media’s role as the fourth estate. Media violations including arrests, intimidation, verbal abuse as well as online and physical attacks are widespread. Also concerning are ongoing delays that foreign correspondents face in securing working visas for Hong Kong.

The law, which came into effect in June, has already been used to criminalise journalism and silence dissent. The imposition of the law signals a major regression for press freedom and independent media in Hong Kong. The arrest last week of Jimmy Lai, the chairman of Next Media Group and founder of the widely-known pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, indicate an orchestrated effort to silence dissent at prominent levels.

As representatives of media freedom defenders in Asia Pacific, we stand together in solidarity to support our fellow journalists and media workers in Hong Kong in these troubling times. Despite the Hong Kong government’s promise to preserve press freedom, the arrests of Jimmy Lai and other journalists and activists clearly demonstrate the real threat to fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong.

We call on the Chinese and Hong Kong authorities to respect journalists’ rights and stop attacks on the media and freedom of expression. This not only hampers democracy, but weakens Hong Kong’s standing in the eyes of the world. Journalism is not a crime. The authorities must protect freedom of expression and the rights of journalists in Hong Kong.

Signed:

Afghan Independent Journalists Association 

Alliance of Independent Journalists - Indonesia

Association of Taiwan Journalists - Taiwan

Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists

E tū - New Zealand

Federation of Media Employees' Trade Unions - Sri Lanka

Federation of Nepalese Journalists

Free Media Movement – Sri Lanka

Indian Journalists Union

Japan Federation of Newspaper Workers' Unions, Shimbunroren - Japan

Journalist Association of Bhutan

Journalists' Association of Korea

Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance - Australia

National Union of Journalists - India

National Union of Journalists - Nepal

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines

National Union of Journalists Peninsular Malaysia

Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists

Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association

Timor-Leste Press Union

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

Twitter: @ifjasiapacific, on Facebook: IFJAsiaPacific and Instagram