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Thousands March in Hong Kong to Condemn Violence Against Editor

Journalists and their supporters gather outside government headquarters in Hong Kong, March 2, 2014.

Journalists and their supporters gather outside government headquarters in Hong Kong, March 2, 2014.

At least 10,000 people rallied in Hong Kong Sunday to support press freedom. The demonstration was organized by journalists' associations concerned about violence against the media after unknown thugs brutally attacked one of the city's most influential editors.

People wore black and shouted slogans in support of Kevin Lau, the former editor in chief of one of the city's most respected newspaper. Lau was attacked by thugs on Wednesday.

Wing Liu and Kyley Shek work at Ming Pao, the paper Lau edited till last January.

“Hong Kong does not allow this kind of violence, we need freedom,” said Liu.

Kevin Lau was ambushed by unidentified thugs who slashed him six times on his legs and back, then fled on a motorbike.

Wang, an accountant, also came out to show her support.

“I was heart-broken when I heard. Why can Hong Kong be in a situation like this?” asked Wang.

Police are reviewing Ming Pao's recent reporting, looking for coverage that might have angered someone and made him a target.

Over the years, similar attacks against journalists have remained unsolved in Hong Kong and Joyce Ng, a former reporter at Ming Pao, said she fears Lau's attackers will not be caught either.

But she said it is important to take to the streets.

“We are just hoping to give pressure to the police, and to raise public awareness,” said Ng.

The attack against Lau comes at a sensitive time for Hong Kong.

This year Beijing will decide over the details on universal suffrage, which the former British colony was promised for 2017.

There are also mounting fears that Beijing is increasing its influence over the media in Hong Kong. Ming Pao's decision to dismiss Lau in January was seen as a sign of such interference.

Staff at Ming Pao blamed the management for having removed the outspoken editor in an attempt to tune down the paper's critical voice.

Hong Kong Journalists Association vice-chair Shirley Yam said in recent years Hong Kong and the mainland have become financially and economically interconnected. Journalists in Hong Kong are increasingly touching on mainland's interests in their reporting.

“We actually do not know who we are meddling with. We are in a situation where we do what we think it is right, we just report what we have seen as the facts, without taking into much consideration or without much knowledge on how those people will react,” said Yam.

Days after Lau's attack, several groups have launched signature campaigns, which like Sunday's rally aim at putting pressure on the executive and the police to protect journalists.

Lau left the intensive care unit on Saturday, and his wife says he is facing a long recovery.