Journalists and students rallied Thursday to protest a vicious assault on the ousted editor of the liberal newspaper Ming Pao as rising threats against press freedoms in Hong Kong drew international condemnation.
Agence France-Press reported that a crowd of about 200 wore black and held a candlelight vigil, vowing not to be intimidated by the attack on the respected journalist. Kevin Lau was slashed Wednesday by two people riding a motorcycle. He remained hospitalized Thursday in critical but stable condition following surgery, The Wall Street Journal reported.
No one has been arrested for the assault, AFP reported:
The attack took place days after 6,000 journalists marched to Hong Kong’s government headquarters to demand the city’s leaders uphold press freedom and repel what they see as intrusions from mainland China.
The Hong Kong Journalists’ Association has denounced the stabbing and called on authorities to “pursue [Mr Lau's] attackers and those malignant forces behind them without fear or favour.
“The attackers must be brought to justice as quickly as possible to allay public fears.”
Lau was ousted from his position in January and replaced by a Malaysian editor viewed as pro-Beijing, a move widely seen as retaliation for the paper’s investigations. Ming Pao had recently collaborated with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists to look into tax havens employed by family members of Chinese officials.
ICIJ director Gerard Ryle said in a prepared statement that while there is no direct evidence of a connection between the investigation and the attack on Lau, speculation to that effect “does reflect the real concern and anxiety felt by many in the Hong Kong press corps over continuing threats to press freedom.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists also condemned the attack on Lau (referred to in some media reports as Kevin Lau Chun-to):
“The violence against Kevin Lau Chun-to is one of the most serious attacks on a Hong Kong journalist that CPJ has documented in years,” Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, said from New York. “Hong Kong’s investigation and prosecution of this crime must demonstrate that the territory will not tolerate violent intimidation tactics against the media.”