Hong Kong press freedom nearly destroyed, report says
Hong Kong Watch calls on the international community to denounce the “catastrophic” situation facing the media
Hong Kong artist Kacey Wong reads the latest edition of the Apple Daily newspaper in Taichung, central Taiwan, on August 5, 2021. (Photo: AFP)
A government crackdown has almost completely dismantled free media in Hong Kong, paving the way for the expansion of state-run pro-Beijing media in the former British colony, according to a new report by the UK-based advocacy group. United Hong Kong Watch.
The report – In the crosshairs: Hong Kong’s crackdown on media freedom — detailed the “disastrous” condition of press freedom in Hong Kong.
He called on the international community to step up to monitor the situation, expose violations of press freedom and freedom of expression, and provide a lifeline for journalists at risk of arrest on Chinese territory.
The report was launched at an event in the House of Commons in London hosted by lawmaker Catherine West, shadow minister for Asia, on April 26.
He said the working environment for local and foreign journalists in Hong Kong has become increasingly difficult as the government uses a series of laws against journalists, including the National Security Law, Intimidation and Police Violence. , mass layoffs, intervention and media censorship. Even more threatening are the police redefining who is a journalist or not, an upcoming law on so-called fake news and the criminalization of traditional research methods.
Following massive pro-democracy protests since 2019, Hong Kong authorities have not only unleashed a heavy crackdown on protesters, but also on free media, leading to the closure of Apple Daily, Stand News and others. Public broadcaster RTHK has lost its former editorial independence, sowing fear and alarming self-censorship in the city’s media.
“I was walking up an escalator trying to get a view from above, heard a pop and discovered my safety glasses were sprayed with powder. If I hadn’t been wearing glasses, I would have received a bullet in the eye”
The report is based on first-hand interviews with more than 10 Hong Kong journalists currently in exile and reports from leading Hong Kong and global press freedom organizations.
Matthew Cheung, former Hong Kong Chinese-language newspaper reporter Mingpaosaid in the report that he was shot four times with pepper balls while covering pro-democracy protests from June 2019 to early 2020.
“The first time was in Yuen Long about a week after the July 21 mob attack. I was walking up an escalator trying to get a top view, heard a pop and found my safety glasses were sprayed with powder. If I hadn’t been wearing glasses, I would have been shot in the eye,” he said.
The report details how Hong Kong authorities have curtailed press freedom, ranging from police violence against media workers to police raids on newsrooms, from the closure of independent media to broadcaster management reshuffles. public RTHK, from draconian laws leading to the arrest of journalists and editors to the militarization of visas for foreign correspondents and restrictions on access to public archives.
Hong Kong Watch also highlighted how state media continues to spread propaganda against pro-democracy supporters as well as the city’s influential Catholic Church, its leaders and institutions.
“As someone who started my career in 1997 as a young journalist in Hong Kong, I have always considered the freedom of the press in Hong Kong to be one of the city’s greatest assets”
For example, the pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kungpao published four articles from Jan. 27 accusing Cardinal Joseph Zen, the former outspoken bishop of Hong Kong, of abusing his clerical status to engage in anti-China activities.
Stephen Vines, a former presenter at RTHK, wrote the foreword to the report. He says “this report meticulously documents how media freedom has been destroyed” and argues that “exposing the way China’s dictatorship behaves when given the opportunity to destroy freedom serves as a vital reminder to the rest of the world “. of the dangers posed by the communist regime as it expands its influence in the international community.
Hong Kong Watch managing director and UCA News editor Benedict Rogers, who authored the report, said the international community must ensure the protection of journalists in Hong Kong and hold accountable those responsible for the takedown. of freedom of the press.
“Freedom of the press is a fundamental pillar of any free and open society. As someone who started my career in 1997 as a young journalist in Hong Kong, I have always considered the freedom of the press in Hong Kong to be one of the city’s greatest assets,” Rogers said.
“Today it has been almost completely dismantled, as detailed in this comprehensive report, and it is time for the international community to act to ensure that we support the brave journalists who continue to take risks to do their job in Hong Kong, and to ensure that those responsible for the dismantling of press freedom in Hong Kong suffer the consequences and are not allowed to walk away with impunity.