Hong Kong’s democratic media “Ippo Newspaper” closed… Palestinian leader visits Israel for the first time in 11 years

This is ‘Global Village Today’, which delivers major news from various countries around the world.

Moderator) What news do you have today?

Reporter) Yes. Hong Kong dispatched a large-scale police force to arrest people from the pro-democracy online media ‘Ipsu Shimbun’. The Ippo Newspaper announced that it was shutting down its site. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has visited Israel for the first time in 11 years. We will continue to share with you the news that the Russian Supreme Court has dismissed the largest human rights organization in Russia.

Moderator) This is the first news from the global village today. First, the Hong Kong news. Hong Kong police arrest journalists again?

Reporter) Yes. On the 29th, Hong Kong authorities dispatched about 200 police officers to raid the offices and homes of the ‘Stand News’ in Hong Kong, and arrested six former and current executives.

Moderator) What charges did the police apply to them?

Reporter) Yes. The National Security Agency, the Hong Kong National Security Law division within the Hong Kong Police Department, said the charges were conspiracy to publish provocative publications. The police also said that they had been issued a search and seizure warrant from the court.

Moderator) What kind of media is the ‘Introduction Newspaper’?

Reporter) is an online medium. It was founded in December 2014, when the umbrella revolution broke out in Hong Kong. Since then, it has enjoyed popular popularity as a media for the democratic camp. In particular, when large-scale anti-Chinese protests took place across Hong Kong in 2019, it received a lot of attention by broadcasting live footage of the police cracking down on the protesters.

Moderator) Are the arrested people former and current executives of Ippu Shimbun?

The Hong Kong police did not reveal their identities. However, according to Hong Kong ‘TVB’, six former and current executives were included, including former director Margaret Ng, former legislative council member, singer Dennis Ho, and current acting editor-in-chief Patrick Lam. Meanwhile, the newspaper posted a video on Facebook of police arriving at the house of Ronson Chan, the deputy editor and current president of the Hong Kong Journalists Association. It is said that Mr. Chan was taken into custody by the police and then released.

Moderator) But is agitation subject to the Hong Kong National Security Law?

reporter) No. The Hong Kong National Security Law stipulates that the maximum punishment for four crimes: division of the state, regime overthrow, terrorism, and collusion with foreign powers is punishable by up to life imprisonment. But in recent years, Hong Kong courts have given authorities under the National Security Law, using a previously rarely used colonial law.

Moderator) So, what kind of punishment will the crime of sedition be punished?

If convicted and found guilty, he faces up to two years in prison and a fine of HK$5,000 and a fine of approximately US$640.

Moderator) What is the status of the entrance newspaper now?

Reporter) Ippo Newspaper issued a statement immediately after the police raid and arrest and announced that it would cease operations. The newspaper said it would stop updating all social media, including the website, and take down the post. It also said that all employees were fired.

Moderator) With this, another democratic camp media has come to a close?

Reporter) Yes. In June, Hong Kong’s representative pro-democratic media, Bean Fruit Daily, announced that it was discontinued after 26 years of publication. Another democratic media outlet closed after 6 months.

Moderator) Jimmy Lai, the owner of the Bean Fruit Daily, is currently serving a sentence, right?

Reporter) Yes. Jimmy Lai, an elderly man in his 70s, is serving a total of 20 years in prison for participating in and inciting participation in illegal assemblies. Jimmy Lai is also facing charges of fraud and violating the National Security Law. However, on the 28th, Hong Kong police charged Jimmy Lai with another charge.

Moderator) What is the charge?

Reporter) is charged with publishing, printing, or selling inflammatory publications. Hong Kong authorities indicted seven former executives of the Bean Fruit Daily, including Jimmy Lai, on the same day. Hong Kong’s Deputy Prime Minister for Government John Lee warned reporters on the same day that the media could not be used as a tool to undermine national security and would respond with zero tolerance.

Moderator) Let’s take a look at the reaction of the Hong Kong authorities.

Reporter) Yes. The Hong Kong Journalists Association issued a statement, stressing that the Hong Kong government should protect journalists under the Hong Kong legal entity ‘Basic Law’. The international press group CPJ also said in a statement that the move was an open attack on Hong Kong’s already torn press freedom, calling for the immediate release of those arrested and the cancellation of all charges. The Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club expressed deep concern that the media environment in Hong Kong would be further cooled in the future.

Mahmoud Abbas (left), Palestinian Authority President and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

Moderator) Today’s Global Village is the next news. The news that the head of the Palestinian Authority has visited Israel?

Reporter) Yes. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas visited Israel on the evening of the 28th. Abbas’s last visit to Israel was in 2010, his first visit to Israel in 11 years.

Moderator) Why did President Abbas visit Israel?

Reporter) It was to meet Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz. The two met at Minister Gantz’s residence on the outskirts of Tel Aviv.

Host) Have you two met before?

Reporter) That’s right. Last August, then Minister Gantz visited Ramallah, West Bank district of the Jordan River, where the Palestinian Authority is located. The Israeli Defense Ministry issued a statement after the meeting and said that the two had discussed economic support and security issues.

Moderator) What kind of conversation did the two of you have this time?

[Reporter]Defense Minister Gantz said in a tweet on the morning of the 29th that the two had met and discussed economic and private sector implementation measures. Gantz also said he had discussed the importance of cooperation in security and prevention of terrorism and violence for the welfare of Israelis and Palestinians.

Moderator) What specific results have been achieved through this meeting?

Reporter) Yes. Israel’s Defense Ministry has announced that Gantz has approved so-called “confidence-building measures”. Confidence-building measures are said to include moving taxes to Palestine, allowing hundreds of Palestinian businessmen and key figures to travel abroad, and granting residency for thousands of people on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Moderator) The tax transfer issue occupies a large part in the conflict between the two sides, right?

Reporter) That’s right. Israel has been collecting taxes and duties on behalf of the Palestinian Authority under an agreement signed in the 1990s. However, as tensions escalate with Hamas, which is occupying Gaza, part of the tax collection is often not remitted because of the threat of terrorism. Israeli remittances are a key source of funding for a struggling Palestinian.

Moderator) Did the Palestinian side also announce a position on the meeting between the two?

Reporter) Yes. Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh also tweeted that Abbas met with Gantz to discuss the importance of a political solution in accordance with international resolutions. The two have revealed a nuanced position, revealing that they discussed tensions created by Jewish migrants, along with security, economic and humanitarian issues.

Moderator) What is the reaction of Israeli politicians?

Reporter) The Likud Party, which is now an opposition party, protested, saying it was a very dangerous concession to Israel’s security. Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud Party has maintained a hardline policy towards Palestine, including expanding Jewish settlements throughout his tenure.

Moderator) What kind of Palestinian policy does the new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett have?

Reporter) New Prime Minister Bennett is a more far-right, hard-line conservative politician who has vowed that he will never recognize Palestine as a state. However, as a series of accommodating measures such as sending Defense Secretary Gantz to Palestine in August and trust-building measures were announced this time, some observers suggest that the US government may have persuaded them.

Russian police stop a protest in front of the Supreme Court in support of the human rights group 'Memorial' on the 28th.

Russian police stop a protest in front of the Supreme Court in support of the human rights group ‘Memorial’ on the 28th.

Host) Global Village Today, let’s look at one more news. Is it the news that the Russian Supreme Court has ordered the dissolution of the human rights group?

Reporter) Yes. The Russian Supreme Court ruled on the 28th that the ‘Memorial’ should be dissolved. Founded in 1989, Memorial is one of the most famous and oldest human rights organizations in Russia. The next day, the 29th, the Moscow City Court ordered the dissolution of the ‘Human Rights Center Memorial’, a subdivision of the Memorial.

Moderator) Why did the court order the dissolution of this organization?

Reporter) Last month, Russian prosecutors filed a lawsuit against Memorial for dissolution. Russian prosecutors have requested the dissolution of Memorial, saying that it is a threat to the public by frequently violating the ‘Foreign Agency Act’, denigrating Russia’s predecessor, the USSR, and restoring Nazi criminals. The Russian Supreme Court accepted the prosecution’s argument at the trial on the 28th.

Moderator) What is the Foreign Agency Act?

Reporter) It is a domestic corporation adopted by Russia in 2012. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), media outlets, and organizations that engage in political activities with foreign funding. Individuals, etc. must be registered with the Russian authorities and regularly report activity details and financial statements. In addition, all publications that we publish must indicate that we are a foreign agency.

Moderator) MemoryR is also designated as a foreign agency, right?

Reporter) Yes. The Russian government designated MemoryR as a foreign agency in 2016. Russian prosecutors claimed that MemoryR did not properly indicate a foreign agency in its publications.

Host) You said earlier that Memorial has disparaged the former Soviet Union, but in what way do you mean it?

Reporter) Yes. The former Soviet Union promoted a false image of a terrorist state. Russian prosecutors also claimed that Memorial distorted the history of World War II.

Moderator) How is Memorial’s side responding to the court’s decision?

Reporter) Memorial’s side has said that the prosecution’s allegations are based on unfounded political motives, and that their activities will continue even if the court orders the closure. After the court’s verdict, one of the lawyers, Maria Eismont, said she would appeal, saying nothing was over.

Moderator) Is there any other judicial system besides the Supreme Court?

Reporter) It is known that Memorial plans to appeal to the Russian Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights. Icemont’s lawyer emphasized that Behind Memorial is a Russian people dedicated to a great cause, and that Memorial’s activities will continue.

Moderator) Were there a lot of interest in this trial?

Reporter) Yes. Diplomats from about 20 countries, including Britain, France and Germany, watched the trial in court. Also, during the trial, many people gathered in front of the courthouse and shouted slogans saying it was shameful. Some of them are said to have been arrested by authorities.

Moderator) Let’s look at the reaction of the international community to the outcome of the trial.

Reporter) Yes. US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan criticized the ruling, calling it “a blatant and tragic attempt to suppress freedom of expression and erase history.” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Ledrian also expressed concern that the order to close the memorial was “a great loss for the Russians”.

Moderator) What is the reaction of other human rights groups?

Reporter) Yes, in a statement issued by the international human rights group Amnesty International on the 28th, the closure of Memorial is a direct violation of the freedom of speech and association, and the Russian government’s use of the Foreign Agency Act to disband the organization is not a good idea for civil society. It was criticized as an obvious attack on the​

Host) Global Village Today, I will listen up to this point.



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