Free press has become the next target amid Hong Kong rising violence against pro-democracy protesters, with an arson attack on Hong Kong Epoch Times’ printing shop on 19 Nov, reported the Epoch Times.
Four masked men stormed into the printing shop in the early morning of 19 Nov, just after the shop’s staff had arrived for work. Two of them were seen carrying batons, and another carried containers filled with flammable liquid. They shouted, “All of you, don’t move!”reports the Epoch Times. After pouring the liquid on the floor, the printing machine, and bundles of paper, they ignited the liquid. The masked men then fled the scene, with the whole incident recorded by the shop’s security cameras.
Although the assailants were all dressed in black, it is widely believed that they purposely disguised themselves as protesters.
Staff managed to put out the fire, but only after effecting significant damage. #CCP involvement suspected, given @hk_epochtimes truthful and transparent coverage of the #HongKongProstests. pic.twitter.com/CQe0jaAcRq
— The Epoch Times (@EpochTimes) November 19, 2019
Cheryl Ng, Epoch Times Hong Kong spokesperson, denounced the fact that the protesters were behind the incident, claiming, “I don’t think they are protesters because there is no reason for them to do so.”
Epoch Times Hong Kong is among very few media expressing support to pro-democracy protests there. Since its establishment nearly 20 years ago, the media has been subject to four attacks, which the Chinese Communist Party allegedly was involved in.
As the media takes a lead in reporting on topics that the Chinese Communist Party deems sensitive, this attack is said to be the regime ‘s latest intimidation attempt in silencing free and independent press.
The incident happened just when the Senate unanimously passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, and has sparked immense criticisms from the Senators.
Sen. Josh Hawley called it “an assault to liberty”
“Any assault on the freedom of the press is an assault of the liberty that was promised to the people of Hong Kong,” he said. “It’s an assault to the basic function of a democracy.”
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) pointed out that the intimidation act points to a fear of the truth being revealed, stating:
“Only a totalitarian regime is afraid of what is written by the press. If you have truth on your side, you’re never afraid about being written by the press.”
“That in and of itself is another concerning violation of the type of basic rights we support in the United States,” he added.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) expressed his disappointment, naming the attack on free press as the act of a tyrant.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) cited the attack on Hong Kong Epoch Times together with the ongoing suppression of religious minorities in China, including Muslim-practicing Uyghurs and other minorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, condemning that it “has been very much in the wrong direction in China.”
The losses resulting from the attack are still being assessed, according to The Epoch Times report.