dirty press 文化工房 文化界監察暴力行動組 字花 字蝨 序言書室 香港文學館 映畫手民 圓桌精英 溯源書社 實現會社
Expecting illumination in the darkest of times: a declaration concerning the recent ‘disappearances’ of Mighty Current and Causeway Bay Books
Since October 2015, Hong Kong publisher Mighty Current’s general manager Lui Bo, owner Gui Minhai, business manager Cheung Jiping, and Causeway Bay Books’s store manager Lam Wing Kei and shareholder Lee Bo have disappeared in Shenzhen, Dongguan, Thailand and Hong Kong successively under mysterious circumstances. Various news reports have alleged that Lee Bo and the other four have been abducted and taken to Mainland China. We strongly protest against such action, and we urge Hong Kong authorities to investigate into the case thoroughly, to ensure the personal safety of its citizens against foreign agents or law-enforcers and to defend the freedom of the press in Hong Kong.
In the past few decades, information has always flowed freely within Hong Kong without any interference. People of different political backgrounds were equally protected by the law; publications banned in China are circulated freely within Hong Kong. For these reasons, many publishers and media that tackle politically sensitive issues have chosen Hong Kong as their base. Yet it has not escaped notice that the five people who disappeared recently were all involved in publishing and distributing books deemed politically sensitive by China. Their whereabouts are as yet unknown, and one of them was even suspected to have been abducted within Hong Kong. We are deeply indignant about the incident as the culprits are trampling over the law of Hong Kong, and through their action are cultivating a climate of terror among practitioners in the publishing industry. They are indeed threatening Hong Kong’s freedom of expression and of the press and jeopardising Hong Kong’s reputation as a free and safe city.
Global Times, a newspaper controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, pointed out on 4 January 2016 that the publications of Causeway Bay Books harm the interest of China. They denounce its practice as “guilty towards the entire nation, and constitutes a betrayal against the fundamental interests of Hong Kong.” This in effect amounts to a threat towards Hong Kong’s publishing industry. In fact, it is not the first time that China has tightened its control over Hong Kong’s freedom of speech and of the press since the transfer of sovereignty in 1997: in 2005 Ching Cheong was arrested by Beijing State Security Bureau under charges of espionage; in 2014 Kevin Lau Chun To, former editor-in-chief of Ming Pao, was stabbed and critically injured; also in 2014 Yiu Man Tin, chief editor of Morning Bell Press and publisher of banned books, was lured to Shenzhen and arrested there by Chinese authorities. Yiu was later sentenced to 10 years in prison for smuggling. It is clear that freedom of the press in Hong Kong will face a dismal future because of the increasingly brutal intervention by the Chinese government.
We demand the following:
1. Hong Kong Police should investigate this incident thoroughly, and should publicly announce the truth behind the disappearances.
2. Ma Fung-kwok, the representative of the cultural sector in the Legislative Council, and Lau Kong-wah, the Secretary of Home Affairs, should express concern about the incident and ensure the implementation of laws related to freedom of speech in Hong Kong.
3. The Hong Kong government should commit to the protection of the personal safety and freedom of the press of citizens within the jurisdiction of Hong Kong.
Totalitarian regimes will always be widely denounced for spreading fear and oppressing the freedom and rights of individuals. As Hannah Arendt wrote in Men in Dark Times, ‘even in the darkest of times we have the right to expect some illumination.’ We are fearless in face of oppression. We will do our utmost to uphold the belief in freedom of the press and will not waver under any intimidation or coercion, thus doing our part in defending Hong Kong as a place of safety and harbour of freedom.
The Coming Society實現會社
Fleurs des lettres字花
Hong Kong Readers Bookstore序言書室
Hong Kong In-Media獨立媒體(香港)
Hong Kong Shield文化界監察暴力行動組
The House of Hong Kong Literature香港文學館
Independent Chinese PEN Center獨立中文筆會
Roundtable Synergy Books圓桌精英