Ex-Editor stabbed just days after anti-censorship press rally

Kevin Lau, the former editor of Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao, was stabbed early this morning. The attack occurred in broad daylight and followed a rally on Sunday where thousands marched in the streets to denounce censorship. A central cause for the march was the sacking of Lau the previous month.

by WAN-IFRA Staff | February 26, 2014

The South China Morning Post Hong Kong reports that Lao is currently in a critical condition in hospital, having sustained three knife wounds across his back and legs. The assailants are believed to have escaped by motorbike.

Lau had previously published articles exposing corruption and protesting human rights abuses. He had been replaced by a Malaysian editor viewed as being more pro-China.

Journalist organisations were quick to condemn the attack, emphasising the public unease at recent infringements on press freedom. The Hong Kong Journalists Association stated, “The attackers must be brought to justice as quickly as possible to allay public fears.”

Hong Kong’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club also put an emphasis on the attack being part of a trend, “The Club reiterates its view that the growing number of attacks against members of the press in Hong Kong needs to be taken seriously by the local administration. Hong Kong’s reputation as a free and international city will suffer if such crimes go unsolved and unpunished.”

The government of Hong Kong responded by denouncing the attack, with Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying visiting Lau in hospital and remarking, “The SAR government and myself are very concerned about the incident, feel indignant about such an act of violence, and we strongly reprimand it. Hong Kong is a society of the rule of law, and we are absolutely intolerant about violence of this kind.”

Andrew Heslop, WAN-IFRA Press Freedom Director, commented, “WAN-IFRA calls for a thorough investigation into the attack on Mr. Lau and urges the local Hong Kong administration to do more to guarantee the safety of journalists working in the territory,” he said. “There have been reports of a steady increase in threats and attacks on journalists, as well as growing pressure from tighter censorship and more prevalent editorial restrictions. Today’s shocking escalation raises further concerns over the extent and influence of forces whose interest is to silence the Hong Kong press.”

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