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All Chinese Journalists Association Urged to Defend Rights

IFJ Urges All Chinese Journalists Association to Defend Media Rights

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is frustrated to learn that three journalists in China have been detained by police, prevented from reporting on the misdeeds of some Government officials, or put under pressure to leave their jobs.

Chen Baocheng, a journalist with the Caixin media group, was allegedly detained by police in Pingdu, Shandong Province, on August 10 on the accusation that he had falsely imprisoned an unidentified person when he (Chen) was fighting against illegal land evictions in his home town. Caixin media group has asked the police to admit that Chen was detained, but the police denied detaining him and did not give any further explanation, saying that they did not receive Caixin’s request because the police facsimile machine was broken.

In a separate case, Yang Qiongwen, of the NanDao Evening Post, was forced to resign on August 6 after he alleged that a primary school headmaster and an official of the Wanning Housing Administrative Bureau in Hainan Province had been involved in the rape of six girl students in an inn in May.

According to Yang’s microblog and some Mainland reports, Yang received a call from the Bureau on the day the article was published on the newspaper. The caller from the Bureau said he should not have reported on such a “sensitive” case. The following day, Yang received another call in which the caller threatened to force him leave the newspaper, no matter how difficult it was.

On August 6, the senior management of the newspaper told Yang to prepare a resignation letter. The next day, a staff member of the newspaper confirmed that the Bureau had put pressure on the newspaper’s senior management. The newspaper originally supported Yang in his reporting of the case.

Another journalist, Gao Qinrong, formerly of Shanxi Youth Daily, said he received a death threat after he exposed a syndicate involving the Ministry of Finance Bureau of Yuncheng City, Shanxi Province, which was involved in corruption and abuse of power.

On August 4, Gao disclosed in his microblog that his informant received a death threat from unidentified people, who warned his source to stop giving Gao any information about the syndicate. The unidentified people said that if the source did not stop giving Gao information, members of Gao’s and his source’s families would be killed.

Gao said: “There is no hatred between me and any Government officials, but this is clearly retaliation after I published their wrong doings. But I will not give up and will insist on continuing to disclose their abuse of power, because this is the duty of a journalist.”

Gao, who was imprisoned for eight years after reporting on a fraudulent irrigation project in Shanxi in 1998, has asked his source to file a complaint to the police. He said he is now on the alert for possible attacks when he leaves his home.

The IFJ Asia Pacific Office said: “This is a typical case of retaliation against the media, which is common on the Mainland. Any retaliation should be condemned, in particular those threats which have clearly jeopardised press freedom and the law.”

We urge the Police Bureaus of Hainan, Shanxi and Shandong to investigate the cases and report to the public.

We also urge the All Chinese Journalists Association to carry out its duty to investigate the three cases and defend the journalists’ rights, as well as to defend press freedom in China, which is enshrined in Article 35 of China’s Constitution.

ENDS

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