Visual Artists Guild condemns the brutal attack on Kevin Lau Chun-to, Hong Kong Ming Pao Daily's former editor-in-chief. Mr. Lau was hacked with a cleaver six times during broad daylight on February 26 by an assailant who escaped with an accomplice on a motorcycle near where Mr. Lau lives.

Mr. Lau has led Ming Pao, a well respected centrist newspaper for years but was replaced in January. Just the Sunday prior to the attack on Mr. Lau, 6000 people protested in Hong Kong for its deteriorating press freedom.

Since President Xi Jinping came into power in China, both China and Hong Kong has experienced increasing alarming press censorship, repression of journalists and economic boycotts by advertisers on newspapers which failed to follow China's government line.

In 2012 Mr. Lau investigated the suspicious death of Li Wangyang, a labor activist who was imprisoned for 22 years since the 1989 pro-democracy movement in China. Authorities in China claimed that Li committed suicide by hanging while Ming Pao provided evidence that Mr. Li was in such a weak physical state that he was incapable of even hauling himself up to commit suicide.

Last year, Mr. Lau participated in an investigation with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists exposing China's top leaders' family offshore wealth. Included in the report is the brother-in-law of President Xi Jinping, the son and son-in-law of former Premier Wen Jiabao, the daughter of former Premier Li Peng, the son-in-law of Deng Xiaoping and many others.

It is suspected that the Communist Party of China ordered such attack as a warning to others and to create an atmosphere of fear in the community.

Visual Artists Guild calls on Hong Kong's chief executive, Leung Chunying to bring those who are involved in the planning and execution of such violent act to justice even if it leads up to China. Hong Kong should not allow these kind of attacks on journalists to mar Hong Kong's status as a free society.

Ann Lau
Chair, Visual Artists Guild