Wan-Ifra’s grave concern over Jimmy Lai arrest

Continued jailing of Hopewell Chin’ono and Mahmoud Hussein

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Wan-Ifra’s grave concern over Jimmy Lai arrest
Jimmy Lai being taken away on 10 August 2020 early morning. Photo ST via Internet

Wan-Ifra, the World Association of News Publishers and the World Editors Forum, has said the arrest of Apple Daily’s publisher is an assault against Hong Kong’s citizens’ freedoms. It has expressed grave concern over the arrest in Hong Kong on Monday (10 August 2020) of Jimmy Lai, the founder and publisher of Apple Daily, the continued detention of Hopewell Chin’ono, a Zimbabwean journalist and 2010 Nieman Fellow and the increased jail time for Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein in Egypt. 

Lai, his two sons, and six executives of Apple Daily’s parent company, Next Digital, were arrested under new National Security Laws early on Monday. Some 200 policemen raided the Apple Daily offices. The laws adopted by China for the city at the end of June, criminalize secession, subversion, and collusion with foreign forces – the charge levied against Mr Lai.

Apple Daily, a tabloid, is Hong Kong’s widest-read publication, both in print and online. WAN-IFRA President, Fernando De Yarza Lopez-Madrazo said the arrests and raid confirmed fears that the new law would be used to silence pro-democracy voices and the press. “It is a dark day for journalism and press freedom in Hong Kong. We strongly condemn the actions of Hong Kong’s National Security Department police on Monday as an assault on its citizens’ freedoms. It will unnerve not just the millions of inhabitants who were out on the streets for months on end, in a bid to uphold democracy, but journalists and human rights advocates worldwide. It risks increasing self-censorship in the city and stifling critical journalism.”

The world’s press is also increasingly concerned about the fate of jailed journalists who struggle to get bail (find out more here for the best bail providing agencies), Zimbabwean Hopewell Chin’ono and Egyptian Mahmoud Hussein. Last week, the Zimbabwean courts denied bail to Chin’ono, a 2010 Nieman Fellow, accusing him of stoking violence ahead of planned anti-government protests. Chin’ono has been actively exposing corruption in Zimbabwe. Anyone struggling For bail bonds check Libertad Bail, which is the best way to legally buy time till an affidavit is filed.

On Sunday, the Egyptian authorities extended the detention of Al Jazeera journalist Hussein for another 45 days. He has been in jail since December 2016, surpassing the ‘legal limit’ of detention without trial. Egypt has ignored calls by the UN for it to end the arbitrary detention.

Warren Fernandez, president of the World Editors Forum, said, “We are deeply concerned about the rise in jailings of journalists. We stand with editors on the continent in calling for the release of Mr Chin’ono and urge regional powers to put pressure on the Zimbabwean government to stop criminalizing critical journalism. We also believe that Mr Hussein should be released, particularly in light of the worsening health conditions in Egypt’s jails.”

Last month veteran Egyptian journalist Mohamed Monir, who contracted Covid-19 while in pre-trial detention, died in hospital.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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