The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) in condemning the brutal attack on recently-sacked Ming Pao chief editor Kevin Lau in Hong Kong yesterday morning. The IFJ has expressed deep concern at the horrific attack which comes amidst rising tensions in Hong Kong over ongoing threats to free speech and freedom of the press.
Lau remains in serious condition in Eastern Hospital after being attacked with a meat cleaver by an unidentified man in a motorcycle helmet on Tai On Street in Sai Wan Ho. The assailant is reported to have struck Lau in the back several times before escaping on a motorcycle with an accomplice.
The IFJ echoes the HKJA’s call for authorities to put all possible effort into finding and charging those responsible. The HKJA yesterday declared its anger and frustration at the declining picture of health in the Chinese territory and called for serious action on Lau’s attack.
“We urge the authorities to pursue Lau’s attackers and those malignant forces behind them without fear or favour. The attackers must be brought to justice as quickly as possible to allay public fears,” HKJA Chairperson, Sham Yee-Lan said.
On January 6, Lau was controversially removed as the editor of the trusted Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao Daily. The sacking prompted 270 staff members, more than 90% of the editorial staff, to sign a petition demanding an explanation for the removal and raising concerns that the newspaper’s editorial independence was being threatened.
On Sunday, February 23, the HKJA took their grievances to the street and were joined by an estimated six thousand people as they marched to the Kong Chief Executive’s Office to demand Leung Chun-ying keep to his election promise to defend press freedom in Hong Kong.
Last week, the IFJ documented a pattern of press freedom violations dating back nine months. The attacks, sackings, censorship and legislative roadblocks paint a concerning picture for the press in Hong Kong.
“This attack of a respected journalist on a public street is beyond shocking and justice must be delivered swiftly,” the IFJ said. “Lau was known to be a prominent critic of government policy and this attack clearly intends to send a message of warning out to those seeking to report the truth.”
In a joint statement with other Hong Kong media organisations, the HKJA said: “Hong Kong is a society that upholds the rule of law, and we do not tolerate the spread of violence. We are worried that the incident will pose a threat to the freedom of press and speech in Hong Kong.”
For a further detailed account of the deterioration of media freedoms in Hong Kong, read the IFJ’s Press Freedom in China Report titled ‘Back to a Moist Future’ here.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
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