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Journalists' association condemns successive attacks on Hong Kong media group

In this 9 June 2007 file photo, Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, owner of the Hong Kong and Taiwan newspaper
In this 9 June 2007 file photo, Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, owner of the Hong Kong and Taiwan newspaper "Apple Daily", attends a seminar on the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover

AP Photo/Kin Cheung

The HKJA strongly condemns the repeated threats and attacks on people associated with the Next Media Group. We urge the police to arrest the assailants as soon as possible, for otherwise Hong Kong would become a city of violence.

There have been three instances of violence. First, on 19 June 2013 a car rammed into the gates of the home of chairman Jimmy Lai in Kadoorie Avenue in Ho Man Tin. An axe and a machete were left at the scene. Second, a Sharp Daily journalist was attacked and injured in Central, after his report on a juice bottler using bottles picked up from rubbish bins. Third, on 30 June a worker of an Apple Daily distributor was driven away by two men armed with knives while he was distributing the newspapers in Hung Hom, and the newspapers were set on fire.

The HKJA has reasons to suspect that this series of atrocities targets the media industry, something we find totally unacceptable.

We must point out that it is the job of the media to carry different voices and opinions. Violence against the media is a threat to this job and Hong Kong's freedom of speech. Regrettably, we have been seeing growing violence in recent years where offices of media organizations have been damaged and journalists attacked.

In 2012, the office of the Sing Tao News Corporation was twice the subject of criminal damage; a journalist and a cameraman with NOW TV were surrounded by demonstrators while they were reporting on a pro-government march in 2012, and the cameraman was punched in the head from behind; and a female photographer with the South China Morning Post was slapped in the face after she was surrounded by two men while reporting on parallel goods traders earlier in 2013. In the latter two cases, the culprits were eventually convicted. However, criminals are still on the run in many crimes that involve media organizations or personnel. For example, former Commercial Radio show-host Albert Cheng was attacked with a knife when he was on his way to work in 1998, but that case remains unsolved.

We urge the police to speedily tackle cases involving attacks on media workers and those who target the industry. Assailants should be apprehended as soon as possible, to maintain our city's rule of law, ensure social order and personal safety, while protecting press freedom and freedom of speech.

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