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Chinese Authorities Ban Reporting of Train Crash Anniversary

July 19, 2012

Chinese Authorities Ban Reporting of Train Crash Anniversary

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply frustrated by reports that China’s Central Propaganda Department has blocked all media reporting of the anniversary of 2011’s deadly high-speed train crash in Wenzhou, in China’s eastern Zhejiang Province.

On the evening of July 23, 2011, two high-speed bulletin trains collided in Wenzhou, killing 40 people and injuring at least 192 others. During the rescue, government officials quickly ordered the burial of the train the wreckage, drawing criticism from the public for their attempts to cover-up the incident.

Only state-owned media organisations, including Xinhua news agency and China Central Television, were allowed to attend a press conference to interview Railway Ministry officials, with other organisations blocked from attending. The Railway Ministry also contacted media organisations and pressured them to ask journalists to leave the scene of the accident. On July 30, 2011, the Beijing Propaganda Department issued an order to all local media forbidding independent reporting of the crash. At least two China Central Television media personnel were reportedly punished for criticising the rescue efforts in their programmes.

The IFJ has learned that a similar directive has been given to local reporters this year, forbidding all independent reporting of the anniversary of the Wenzhou train crash.

“Unfortunately, quite a number of newspapers have already ordered their staff to ignore the anniversary”, one local journalist said. “But, despite this, many journalists refuse to forget the disaster”.

““Directives to restrict reporting on the Wenzhou rail disaster anniversary are denying the public their right to be informed about issues related to public safety, and engage in public debate about reform and improvement of the rail system,” IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

“The IFJ urges China’s Premier Wen Jiabao to swiftly investigate the new restrictions on the media, and uphold his assertion that the people have the right to have oversight of the performance of their government.”

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

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