The Hong Kong government, through its inaction, ended up “encouraging” the recent violent attack on the printing press of the city’s edition of The Epoch Times, said Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in a statement condemning the break-in.
Around 4 a.m. on April 12, four armed men stormed the printing warehouse. They smashed equipment with sledgehammers and threw around construction debris, before fleeing in a white van—stealing a computer as they left.
The incident lasted for approximately two minutes, but caused extensive damage. The Hong Kong edition was forced to temporarily halt operations as it sought repairs and upgraded its security system.
Citing an arson attack targeting the same facility just one and a half years ago, the group called for authorities to punish the intruders and restore media freedom.
“By leaving previous attacks on journalists unpunished and creating a climate of suspicion against independent media outlets, the Hong Kong authorities are encouraging such violence,” says Cédric Alviani, head of RSF East Asia bureau.
He called on Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to “put an end to her government’s attacks, which are threatening media independence, and restore full freedom of the press as enshrined in the Basic Law she is supposed to enforce.”
Hong Kong’s press freedom ratings have observed a sharp decline over the past two decades, plummeting from 18th on RSF’s World Press Freedom Index to 80th place in 2020. China ranked at the 177th out of 180 in comparison.
Over the past year, the Chinese regime has moved to strip Hong Kong of the liberties that distinguish it from mainland China. But some “vestiges of democracy” have remained in the form of a free press—“and The Epoch Times represents that,” said the former U.S. Army general Jack Keane on Fox Business on April 13.
“Some of the vestiges of democracy are still there and the Chinese Communist Party is physically crushing it as best as they can,” he said.
At least five other journalist groups have also called on Hong Kong authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Scott Griffen, deputy director of the Vienna-based International Press Institute, said the “attack must be fully and immediately investigated by the authorities, who must hold those responsible to account.”
“We are outraged by this latest attack on The Epoch Times, which comes at a time when the Chinese government is methodically and brutally stripping away the fundamental rights, including freedom of expression, of the people of Hong Kong,” Griffen said in an emailed statement. “There must be zero tolerance for attacks on journalists and media outlets, and we expect swift action by Hong Kong officials.”
Guo Jun, the director of Epoch Times Hong Kong, said the paper is aiming to resume printing before Friday, when the court delivers sentencing of key pro-democracy activists.
Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) said he “will celebrate with The Epoch Times when their printing presses are soon rolling again in Hong Kong.”
“Tyranny thrives when those who expose it cannot be heard,” he told The Epoch Times.
“This was clearly an attempt to silence The Epoch Times, and I condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms,” he continued. “Around the world, enemies of free speech must be met with resolve, resilience, and even louder voices.”
From The Epoch Times