(HONG KONG) — Throughout Hong Kong, folks lined up early Thursday to purchase the final print version of the final remaining pro-democracy newspaper.
By 8:30 a.m., Apple Day by day’s last version of 1 million copies was bought out throughout many of the metropolis’s newsstands. The newspaper stated it will stop operations after police froze $2.three million in property, searched its workplace and arrested 5 prime editors and executives final week, accusing them of international collusion to hazard nationwide safety — one other signal Beijing is tightening its grip on the semi-autonomous metropolis.
In recent times, the newspaper has grow to be more and more outspoken, criticizing Chinese language and Hong Kong authorities for limiting town’s freedoms not present in mainland China and accusing them of reneging on a promise to guard them for 50 years after the 1997 handover from Britain.
The stress on the paper — and Hong Kong’s civil liberties — elevated after authorities responded to huge protests in 2019 with a sweeping nationwide safety regulation — used within the arrests of the newspaper workers — and revamped Hong Kong’s election legal guidelines to maintain opposition voices out of the legislature.
“That is our final day, and final version, does this mirror the fact that Hong Kong has began to lose its press freedom and freedom of speech?” stated an Apple Day by day graphic designer, Dickson Ng. “Why does it have to finish up like this? Why is there not going to be the Apple (Day by day) newspaper any extra in Hong Kong?”
To a giant applause, affiliate writer Chan Pui-man advised workers who gathered across the newsroom Wednesday evening: “You’ve achieved an excellent job, everybody!” Chan was one of many 5 arrested final week.
Apple Day by day printed 1 million copies for the ultimate version, up from the standard 80,000. Whereas pro-democracy media retailers nonetheless exist on-line, it was the one print newspaper of its form left within the metropolis.
On Wednesday evening, over 100 folks stood outdoors Apple Day by day’s workplace constructing within the rain to point out their assist, as workers labored on the ultimate version, taking pictures and shouting phrases of encouragement.
Within the early hours of Thursday, residents within the metropolis’s Mong Kok neighborhood within the working-class Kowloon district started lining up hours earlier than the paper hit the stands.
Thursday’s version splashed a picture of an Apple Day by day worker within the workplace waving at supporters surrounding the constructing, with the headline “Hong Kongers bid a painful farewell within the rain, ‘We assist Apple Day by day.’”
By Thursday, Apple Day by day’s web site was inaccessible, with a discover that learn: “We’re unhappy to tell you that Apple Day by day and Subsequent Journal’s net and app content material will not be accessible at 23:59, 23 June 2021, HKT.”
“We wish to thank all of our readers, subscribers, advertisers, and Hongkonger on your loyal assist,” the discover stated.
The same discover was posted on its information app.
Apple Day by day’s closure marks a “darkish day for press freedom in Hong Kong,” stated Thomas Kellogg, government director of the Georgetown Middle for Asian Regulation.
“With out Apple Day by day, Hong Kong is much less free than it was per week in the past. Apple Day by day was an necessary voice, and it appears unlikely that another media outlet will have the ability to fill its sneakers, given rising restrictions on free speech and freedom of the press,” he stated.
British Overseas Secretary Dominic Raab stated on Twitter that the nationwide safety regulation is getting used to curtail freedom and punish dissent.
The pressured closure by Hong Kong authorities “is a chilling demonstration of their marketing campaign to silence all opposition voices,” Raab stated.
German Overseas Ministry spokesperson Maria Adebahr referred to as the closure a “exhausting blow in opposition to press freedom in Hong Kong.”
“In our view that is one other signal that pluralism, freedom of opinion and freedom of the press in Hong Kong are topic to erosion, which may significantly be seen because the Nationwide Safety Regulation got here into pressure,” Adebahr stated.
It was the primary time the nationwide safety regulation had been used in opposition to journalists for one thing they printed.
Greater than 100 folks, together with town’s most outspoken pro-democracy advocates, have been arrested underneath the safety laws. They embrace media tycoon Jimmy Lai, who based Apple Day by day in 1995. Many others have fled overseas.