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Editorial: With your support, we will persevere|Apple Daily Hong Kong

By Li Ping

In two days, Apple Daily will celebrate its 26th anniversary. However, on the eve of the celebration, 500 police officers blocked off all entrances and exits of the headquarters of Apple Daily and searched for news materials for five hours, seizing more than 40 computers. Two senior executives of Next Digital and three news staff of Apple Daily were arrested under suspicion of violating the national security law and “conspiring to collude with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security.” The authorities also urged other journalists to keep a distance from Apple Daily and threatened Apple Daily staff to tread carefully. The authorities have drawn a heavy red line for journalism and national security by cracking down on the pro-democracy newspaper. Apple Daily is in peril and the freedom of the press in Hong Kong is at stake.

Citizens fear arrest for differences in political views

The authorities deployed 200 police officers to raid the headquarters of Apple Daily for nearly nine hours in August last year, but at that time, they were still hesitant about leaving a bad record of searching news materials and infringing on press freedom. However, this time, under the protection of a warrant issued under the national security legislation, they were given permission to search and seize journalistic materials. They have even fabricated a brand new accusation of using journalism “as a tool to endanger national security” and an “umbrella” to protect itself, so that they can suppress the media at any time they want without any concern for the reactions from the international community.

Just a day earlier, Secretary for Security John Lee said in an interview with the state-run Xinhua News Agency that the national security law had stopped the chaos in Hong Kong and that the public need not worry about being attacked for holding different political opinions. Ironically, what people are worried about now is not being attacked, but rather, they are worried about being arrested and sentenced to jail for having different political views. From the arrests of Hong Kong pro-democracy primaries participants, to the large number of District Council members facing potential disqualification, to the arrests of the management and editorial staff of Apple Daily, how can the international community be convinced that the Hong Kong version of the National Security Law has not affected the freedom of the majority of the Hong Kong people, as claimed by Carrie Lam?

Carrie Lam also said that under the national security law, there is no such concern as not being able to write articles or criticize the Chief Executive, and that “these acts of freedom of expression still prevail.” Nevertheless, when news materials obtained in an open and honest manner are labeled as evidence of crimes, when journalists performing their professional duties are labeled as criminals, and when criticisms of the regime are labeled as endangering national security, where is the freedom of expression of Hong Kong people and the Hong Kong media? Can it be said that Hong Kong people have to worry about being attacked by the government for having different political views?

Within 12 months, Apple Daily has been the target of the authorities twice, and one can only imagine the enormous pressure our staff has been under. The arrests of Next Digital’s Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer, Apple Daily’s Editor-in-Chief, Associate Publisher and Digital Platform Director, coupled with the freezing of the assets of Apple Daily and two related companies, will have a significant impact on the future of the newspaper. However, the survival of Apple Daily depends not only on the degree of suppression by the authorities, but also on the readers of the newspaper. Hong Kong people, who once enjoyed freedom of the press and freedom of speech, will not easily give up their human rights, nor will they abandon Apple Daily, with whom they have a love-hate relationship.

The enthusiasm of readers and writers has not subsided

The authorities have not responded directly to the question of whether they want to achieve the goal of shutting down Apple Daily by July 1. I am afraid, however, that it is no longer a question of whether they dare to outright shut down Apple Daily, but simply that they do not want the incident to be associated with the grand anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party on July 1. But can threatening the press, threatening the staff of Apple Daily, and even threatening the public not to be complicit with criminals who endanger national security, serve to deter Apple Daily staff, readership and subscribers? Can the objective of the automatic suspension of Apple Daily be achieved?

In my article last year, “As long as there are readers, there will be writers,” I commented on the police raid on the Apple Daily headquarters. Ten months later, the authorities’ suppression and intimidation continue to escalate, which is the most chilling even in the hottest summer. And yet, the enthusiasm of readers and the passion of writers for Apple Daily have not cooled. One reader left a message: “Thank you for your perseverance. No matter how difficult the road will be tomorrow, we will definitely walk through it together.” Indeed, this is also what we want to convey: “Thank you for your support. No matter how difficult the road will be tomorrow, we will definitely walk through it together.” As we said in our letter to our readers, “Apple Daily will continue to faithfully hold on to our posts and fight to the end until dawn.”

This article is translated from Chinese by Apple Daily.

Click here for Chinese version

We invite you to join the conversation by submitting columns to our opinion section: Opinion@appledaily.com

Apple Daily reserves the right to refuse, abridge, alter or edit guest opinion columns for accuracy, length, clarity, and style, and the right to withdraw and withhold columns based on the discretion of our editorial page editors.

The opinions of the writers do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editorial board.

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