6000 people joined a rally and marched to the Chief Executive’s Office today to demand Leung Chun-ying keep to his election promise to defend press freedom. This follows rapid deterioration of one of Hong Kong’s core values.
The protest was organised by the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) and media industry groups committed to press freedom.
During his election campaign, Mr Leung signed a Press Freedom Charter with the HKJA promising an active pursuit of a freedom of information law that would safeguard citizens’ rights to obtain information quickly and conveniently.
Speaking at the rally, HKJA Chairperson, Ms Sham Yee-lan said the muzzling of the city’s press is increasingly rampant. Liberal scholars are barred from appearing in some papers. Critical headlines are removed. Pictures of influentials are edited out for being too sensitive. “The trend is very clear, somebody wants to control the media, to punish disobedient journalists,” said Ms Sham.
The press is not perfect, she acknowledged. Yet the fact is society needs the news media. Without a free press, there would be nobody to speak up for the injustices citizens encounter, she said.
Sham warned that freedom of speech and many basic rights of Hong Kong would go after the loss of press freedom.
Ms Sham called on Hong Kong people to join the movement. Otherwise, she warned, the next generation of Hong Kong people will face a society that calls a stag a horse and where facts are distorted.
A member of the Macau Journalist Association Ava Chan reveled that self-censorship is far more serious and worrying that the next generation may have no reliable sources to rest their trust on.
Apart from speeches by industry representatives, former radio hosts Li Wei-ling shared her experiences.
Joining the HKJA in leading the march and holding the “Free Speech, Free Hong Kong” banner were Journalism Educators for Press Freedom, Ming Pao Staff Concern Group, RTHK Programme Staff Union, Next Media Trade Union and the Independent Commentators Association.
Hong Kong Journalists Association
23 February 2014
Petition photos can be downloaded from http://www.facebook.com/hk.ja.1/photos_all