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Thousands rally for Hong Kong press freedom

Protesters demand capture of men who stabbed former editor

Thousands rally for Hong Kong press freedom

Journalists rally over a vicious attack that critically injured a former newspaper editor

Nicholas Lee, Hong Kong
Hong Kong

March 3, 2014

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Thousands of people rallied in Hong Kong on Sunday as a show of support for press freedom in wake of a violent attack that critically injured a former newspaper editor.

About 13,000 people participated in the rally, according to the Hong Kong Journalists Association, while police said the number was about 8,600.

Ronald Chiu, chairman of the News Executives’ Association, read out a statement condemning violence and demanding that police catch the culprits and bring them to justice.

The association broadcast a recorded statement by Kevin Lau, former chief editor of the Ming Pao newspaper, who was critically wounded last Wednesday after being stabbed six times in the back and legs with a cleaver.

“Violence is meant to intimidate. If we are frightened into submission, we will lose our freedom … Freedom is not given. Freedom is not free. We all have to earn and guard it,” he said.

Lau is now in stable condition and was transferred to a private hospital ward on Saturday, the Ming Pao reported yesterday

Fung Cheuk-him, a journalism student who participated in the rally, told that members of the media had a duty to defend press freedom.

“Press freedom is the foundation of journalism. The press industry will have hope only by defending it," he said.

In a written statement released after the rally, Lau said he feared college students would be afraid to join the industry after his attack, but was emboldened to see their participation in Sunday’s rally.

“I was moved to see their courage and determination,” Lau said.

Hong Kong political observers said the attack on Lau and overall intimidation of journalists reflects Beijing's repressive influence over Hong Kong.

Bruce Lui, convener of the Independent Commentators’ Association, told last week that the attack on Lau may have been the result of the former editor agreeing to conduct an investigation into the hidden wealth of top Chinese officials.

There have been nine attacks or threats towards journalists and media owners since Hong Kong’s handover to China in 1997, five of which happened last year.

On February 23, thousands of journalists and press freedom advocates demonstrated in Hong Kong following the firing of outspoken radio commentator Lee Wai-ling, a move protesters claimed signals growing suppression of the media.

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