Human Rights & Public Liberties

Human Rights & Public Liberties

Published on: 13 Jan, 2021

‘Black day’ for media freedom: Pro-democracy paper Apple Daily forced to close

Published on: 24 June, 2021


Apple Daily arrives at a newspaper booth in Hong Kong on 24 June 2021 [AP]

Apple Daily arrives at a newspaper booth in Hong Kong on 24 June 2021 [AP]

The Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily printed its final newspaper on Thursday.

Hong Kong residents rushed to get the final copy of Apple Daily in the early morning on Thursday. The newspaper printed one million copies of its final edition.

The newspaper announced on Wednesday that it was closing after the police froze its accounts, raided its offices and arrested top editors. The paper’s founder, Jimmy Lai was arrested last year and charged with national security offenses that carry a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

Lai angered authorities in Beijing early on by calling Li Peng, the Chinese official who ordered the 1989 crackdown, the ‘son of a turtle.’

Some consider the shutdown of Apple Daily as the most serious blow to media freedom so far.

Amnesty International described the closure of Apple Daily as ‘the blackest day for media freedom in Hong Kong’s recent history’.

Freeing Jimmy Lai

Speaking to Al Jazeera Barbara Trionfi, executive director of the International Press Institute (IPI), said: ‘IPI has repeatedly expressed concerns about HK’s national security law, since it was passed last year, as it gives Beijing sweeping powers to silence independent and critical journalists operating in Hong Kong.’

She added: ‘It’s too early to speak about a ‘pattern’, but certainly events around Apple Daily confirms our greatest fears about the use of the national security law to silence criticism. Although international condemnation of the clamp down on dissent in Hong Kong has not stopped China from this, the international community must continue to use any diplomatic tool at their disposal to ensure respect of fundamental rights in HK. This includes freeing Jimmy Lai and dropping charges against him.’

Apple Daily stated in an online article: ‘Thank you to all readers, subscribers, and clients and Hong Kongers for 26 years of immense love and support’