Masked Attackers Burn Printing Warehouse of Pro-Democracy Newspaper Epoch Times

Epoch Times fire
Screenshot/Epoch Times

Four unidentified arsonists targeted the printing warehouse of the Epoch Times, a global newspaper that has consistently challenged the Chinese Communist Party, on Tuesday morning, setting fire to the warehouse just as staffers prepared to distribute the Tuesday edition of the newspaper.

According to the Hong Kong edition of the newspaper, the masked men stormed into the warehouse at around 3:40 a.m. local time, brandishing weapons reminiscent of what Hong Kong police officers carry and wearing all black, the color of the Hong Kong protesters. Hong Kong police have admitted to disguising officers as pro-democracy protesters to get close to movement leaders and assault them.

After corralling the warehouse workers, the attackers began dousing the newspapers with an unidentified flammable liquid, set them on fire, and ran away.

The report, citing surveillance footage, indicates the men were standing outside the warehouse waiting for the doors to open when the time came to transport the newspaper to newsstands around the city. Staffers ultimately extinguished the flames, though they appear to have caused significant property damage. No one was hurt in the incident.

The Epoch Times made its surveillance footage of the attack public.

The newspaper staff reported this was the fourth such attack on its printing facility and explicitly described the attack as “an effort by the Communist Party of China” to silence them.

In an email statement to Breitbart News, Cheryl Ng, the Epoch Times Hong Kong edition spokesperson, said the newspaper believes the attack occurred because it has consistently exposed the reality of the Communist Party.

“The Chinese Communist Party is hostile to a free press. In Hong Kong, we have provided timely, honest reports on the protests, and the Hong Kong people have come to rely on us for news about the actual situation,” Ng wrote. “We also provide uncensored news on events in mainland China, giving those inside China who can access our website, and people around the world, uniquely insightful reports. And in 2004 we published ‘Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party,’ which provides an honest and uncensored account of history, violence, and lies of the CCP.”

“For all of these reasons, the CCP has targeted our paper in Hong Kong and around the world,” she said.

Ng added that, in light of months of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, the newspaper has experienced growing popularity there for publishing the reality of police abuses against protesters and attempts at repressing the populace orchestrated by China.

“In Hong Kong, The Epoch Times has become very popular lately especially after the more than 5 months during which the Hong Kong people have suffered ill treatment from the regime. This has been a painful experience for the Hong Kong people to come to understand first hand about CCP tactics that they had not experienced before,” Ng wrote. “Recently, a Hong Kong reader in tears shared her experience about how she became a loyal reader of The Epoch Times. She said she only reads The Epoch Times these days for she feels that our paper is going through the hard times with Hong Kongers while letting the world know that Hong Kongers are really suppressed by the CCP.”

The Epoch Times was founded in the United States in 2000, initially as a Chinese-language newspaper to give voice to those oppressed by the communist regime. It has since developed into an international outlet that regularly challenges dictatorships, particularly communist and socialist ones, around the world. For this, it has faced censorship from pro-China social media outlets like Facebook and Wikipedia, in addition to physical attacks from suspected Chinese agents.

The Epoch Times joins the anti-communist Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily in suffering attacks by supporters of the communist regime. In September, masked men tossed Molotov cocktails over the fence protectin the home of Jimmy Lai, the founder of Apple Daily, the second time Lai has suffered such an attack in recent memory.

That same month, men disguised as pro-democracy protesters assaulted a female Apple Daily reporter covering the protests at a restaurant, an attack that required hospitalization.

Both masked assailants and men who did not bother to disguise themselves have taken to violent acts against the pro-democracy movement. Using baseball bats, hammers, knives, and razors, a variety of communist supporters have targeted peaceful protesters, leaving many hospitalized. Pro-communist groups in China have encouraged these attacks by offering financial rewards to some who have engaged in attacks on protesters.

China is also believed to have orchestrated mob attacks on unarmed protesters. The first, in July, featured an estimated 100 thugs carrying metal rods and bamboo sticks, beating unarmed protesters in a metro station. Those most severely injured were cornered on metro trains and beaten by large groups of men. Pro-China lawmaker Junius Ho appeared on the scene to shake the hands of the attackers and chat with them while the attack was underway.

Millions of people in Hong Kong have taken to street protests since June when the government attempted to pass a law that would allow communist China to extradite anyone present in the country. Protesters are demanding an investigation into police brutality, freedom for imprisoned peaceful protesters, an end to referring to the protests as riots, and the direct election of lawmakers to prevent a similar bill from arising again.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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