Hong Kong journalists have collectively won the the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan’s (FCCJ) Freedom of the Press Asia award.

Freelance journalist Ilgin Yorulmaz
Freelance journalist Ilgin Yorulmaz. Photo: FCCJ screenshot.

Freelance journalist Ilgin Yorulmaz, co-chair of the club’s press freedom committee, said during a live-streamed event on Tuesday that the award recognised journalists and media organisations who fight for free speech, for the free exchange of information, and against censorship.

It was accepted by Hong Kong Journalists Association chair Ronson Chan.

ronson chan
Hong Kong Journalists Association chair Ronson Chan. Photo: FCCJ screenshot.

He said it was an honour to receive the prize: “Hong Kong journalists are kind, passionate and tenacious… although the environment changed, most of us have remained in our position and try our best to find the truth for the Hong Kong community.”

Press freedom

On Monday, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) saw a backlash from members after it axed the 2022 Human Rights Press Awards at the last minute citing legal “red lines.” Sources told HKFP that the now-defunct Stand News – which is the subject of an ongoing court case – was set to win four awards and five merits.

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When asked about press freedom at her weekly press briefing on Tuesday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the FCC incident was isolated: “[F]rom time to time, there will be some concerns and worries arising from isolated incidents… If that same organisation decided not to hold that event, a government official cannot comment on it.”

Explainer: The decline of Hong Kong’s press freedom under the national security law

Since the onset of the security law in 2020, two newsrooms have been raided and their top editors arrested, as press freedom NGOs have sounded the alarm. Apple Daily, Stand News and Citizen News are among the outlets that have shuttered.

media press freedom newspapers
Newspapers in Hong Kong. File Photo: GovHK.

On Sunday, John Lee, the sole candidate for the upcoming chief executive race, said he did not need to “defend” press freedom, as it already existed.

A “fake news” law, regulation of crowdfunding and legislation of the local Article 23 security law are all expected when – and – if Lee takes the helm.

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