The occasion of World Press Freedom Day on May 3 is an opportunity to highlight the degradation of Hong Kong’s civil liberties under the communist “national security” law (NSL).
Imposed by the National People’s Congress (NPC), mainland China’s nominal legislature, in June 2020, the NSL came at the tail end of the massive 2019-2020 protests that saw millions of Hongkongers demand democratic reforms and even call for the end of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rule.
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The once highly regarded Hong Kong Police Force was deputized by the CCP to suppress the protesters, leading to many injuries and at least several suspected deaths. In addition, many violent acts were committed by probably members of triad criminal organizations connected to the mainland regime.
On July 21, 2019, a mob of 100 masked men wielding sticks chased and beat Hongkongers returning home from the day’s protest events, causing injuries, including to a pregnant woman who suffered a miscarriage from the attack.
The scene at the Yuen Long subway station was captured on livestream by Gwyneth Kwai-lam Ho (何桂藍), a journalist with the independent Hong Kong news outlet Stand News.
Ho was beaten and suffered injuries to her head, hands, and shoulders, but continued filming the violence while lying on the ground.
She later tried to enter politics, but the legislative elections were cancelled after the passage of the NSL. In December 2021, Ho was found guilty of taking part in a “seditious” memorial event to commemorate the June 4th, 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, and sentenced to six months in prison; she went to trial again for NSL-related charges in 2022 and remains behind bars.
Hundreds of people have been sentenced for violations of the NSL, and many others detained.
“I want to highlight @StandNewsHK iconic report on the Yuen Long attack because it makes it clear how far HK press freedoms have fallen, the reporter filming @KwaiLamHo is in jail, Stand News is gone, and this livestream is about to be deleted from their website forever,” writes Arman Dzidzovic, a New York-based documentary director and photographer, on Twitter.
Stand News, where Gwyneth Ho worked, was disbanded on Dec. 29, 2021.