Hong Kong freedom of speech and expression has been taking some major hits recently, particularly its media, with many wondering if Hong Kong can survive this “red” squeeze. Volunteers for the Anti-Silencers group, organized by the Hong Kong Journalists Association, distributed 6,600 blue ribbons—symbols for freedom of speech—to participants of the 2014 Hong Kong Marathon.
The Feb. 16 marathon had more than 60,000 participants.
The most recent incidents causing alarm were the dismissal of radio host Li Huiling on Feb. 12, and the replacement of Ming Bao’s chief editor. Sixty members of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, together with students and faculty of a journalism department, spent 24 hours making the ribbons.
They passed out the ribbons before the competition, and shared their concern with marathon participants. Five thousand eight hundred blue ribbons were taken and pinned on within the first 2.5 hours.
Hu Liyun, coordinator of the International Journalists Association in Hong Kong and China, told Voice of America that the ribbons were well received, and residents of Hong Kong know that they are supporting not only freedom of the press, but also their own freedom of expression.
“They are very concerned about Hong Kong’s freedom of speech, and so are we,” Hu said. “Incidents related to freedom of the media in recent months have much to do with Hong Kong’s politics. It is not just an issue for media personnel; it’s about freedom of the individual, freedom of the press, and freedom of expression.”
The dismissal of radio host Li has triggered much controversy. According to reports, Li’s removal from her golden commentary program stemmed from the fact that she irritated pro-Beijing people, particularly those in the Central Government Liaison Office in Hong Kong.