Journalists gathered and marched outside Hong Kong’s government headquarters yesterday in defense of press freedom during the ‘Free Speech, Free Hong Kong’ protest organized by the Hong Kong Journalists Association, which said 6,000 people took part.
SCMP reports that the association says recent events have threatened freedom of press and speech in the city.
It says these include the dismissal of Commercial Radio host Li Wei-ling, an outspoken critic of the government; claims by Chinese-language newspapers Apple Daily and AM730 that mainland-backed firms and banks had pulled advertisements because of their editorial stances; and Ming Paomanagement’s decision to assign a Malaysian to take over as the paper’s chief editor.
Nick Kwok Hing-fai, a photojournalist at Ming Pao who took his two-year-old daughter on the march, said he came because of the next generation. “I’m afraid my daughter will grow up regarding the June 4 incident as only a riot,” he said. “If we don’t tell the truth now, there will be nothing we can say tomorrow.”
“Hong Kong has changed,” one protester shouted during the rally. “The air of freedom is becoming a lot thinner.”
Relations between Hong Kong and China’s Communist Party have been tense as the city has tried to carry out political reforms that could lead to a direct election for its next leader in 2017, and journalists fear that mainland propaganda officials are influencing local newsrooms—a move that could strengthen ties between Hong Kong media bosses and Beijing and lead to upped censorship.
In January, thousands of people gathered in Hong Kong at a New Year’s Day rally to voice demands to the CPC for an open election in 2017, claiming that the city’s seen “more and more interference” from Beijing.
The ongoing battles could potentially culminate to a large-scale protest this summer, “Occupy Central”, the Washington Post previously reported. The campaign threatens to rally over 10,000 people to block the streets in Hong Kong’s central business hub from July onward if Beijing refuses to open the nomination process.
[Image Credit: Ed-meister]