Hong Kong journos ask Beijing to review controversial security law

Beijing, Jul 15 (EFE).- The Hong Kong Journalists Association on Thursday asked China to review the application of the controversial National Security Law, in whose name freedoms have been curtailed, which the semi-autonomous city enjoyed until now.

On the occasion of the publication of its annual report – entitled “Freedom, in tatters” – the association said “the National People’s Assembly should review the implementation of the National Security Law taking into account the changing circumstances and anxieties of Hong Kongers.”

“The (assembly) should study modifications and additional provisions, in particular making the defense of journalists a public interest. That would safeguard press freedom,” the association’s text read.

The association’s other five demands were toward the local government and the police and are related to modifying strategies to combat disinformation, access to public information or respect for public radio RTHK’s editorial autonomy. The network in recent months has undergone modifications to bring it closer to the local and Chinese government.

The report also denounced the decline in freedom of the press in the semi-autonomous city in the last 12 months, in which there was an increase in census, intimidating and threatening activities.

The text said “political ‘red lines’ have been marked throughout the city in the name of the National Security Act,” such as the arrest of Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai (currently in prison) or the “numerous restrictions on the press launched by the chief executive, Carrie Lam.”

The document also reports the closure of the Apple Daily newspaper, critical of Beijing, and caused by the freezing of the accounts of its directors and the unilateral redefinition of the work of journalists by the government.

According to the association, these situations “have reduced the space of the free press and increased the risks” for workers in the sector, while “damaging the international reputation of the city, as Hong Kong prides itself on its free circulation of information and exchange of ideas.”

The National Security Law – imposed by Beijing in the middle of last year after massive anti-government protests in Hong Kong streets in the second half of 2019 – punishes secession, subversion, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces with up to life imprisonment.

The rule is being used in part to limit press freedom – as in the case of Apple Daily – and silence columnists, many of whom have opted for self-censorship.

This law has been strongly criticized by different countries of the international community, as well as by the pro-democracy movement of the city, which says the legislation will end the autonomy and freedoms enjoyed by the former British colony. EFE


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