French citizens in Hong Kong show solidarity with victims of Paris attack

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 January, 2015, 10:44pm
UPDATED : Friday, 09 January, 2015, 12:44am

Overseas French citizens in Hong Kong heeded a call to gather in Wan Chai and pay tribute to the victims in Paris.

Some 500 responded to an appeal from local group Union des Français de l’Etranger. They fell silent for a minute followed by a spontaneous chorus of the French national anthem, La Marseillaise.

Mother-of-one Laure, who was with her young son, said: “He’s a bit too small to learn from what happened, but later on I’ll explain that even in very tough times, actually it’s very important to feel unity. Through the attack, they attacked the whole country.”

Hong Kong journalists, too, rallied around the slain French cartoonists from the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club and the Hong Kong Journalists Association strongly condemned the attack.

More than 100 foreign correspondents and local reporters held signs reading “I am Charlie” in French, English and Chinese, showing unity and denouncing the violence.

Jitendra Joshi, the president of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong, said: “Tragically, horribly, depressingly, it has turned out to be absolutely awful.

“That’s why I think it’s important that we here, the media here, and across the world, speak out and defend what any publication wishes to do, which at the end of the day is to express its opinion,” Joshi added.

The Journalists Association said that a reporter’s conscience would not be “killed” by violent threats of any form, and that journalists would act in solidarity with each other to safeguard freedom of the press and speech.

Philippe Dova, a French foreign correspondent for RTL and TV5 Monde, was overwhelmed by the support for the press, freedom and the French community in Hong Kong.

“After yesterday, who can say such an attack is not possible in Hong Kong? I wouldn’t have believed it yesterday that such a horrible thing could have happened in Paris.”

The FCC’s Francis Moriarty said it was vital the rights of reporters were upheld in Hong Kong otherwise the dire consequences could mirror what happened in Paris.

“We do have a history [of violence in Hong Kong] and I think we do have to be careful that history doesn’t worsen because we see where it can go in the worst of circumstances.

“We have to defend free speech, free press and free expression and the right of people to sometimes make fun of things sometimes people don’t like to have made fun of.”

The Hong Kong Journalists Association strongly condemned the attack on Charlie Hebdo, saying it was shockingly gruesome and “tantamount to murdering freedom of speech and of the press”.

The HKJA reiterated that a journalist’s conscience would not be “killed” by any violent threats, in whatever form they took. The local press union extended its condolences to those who have lost their loved ones in the incident.

The French consulate fell silent for one minute at midday on Thursday to commemorate the victims of the terror attack.

Flags at the consulate and the French residence will be flown at half-mast until Saturday.