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IFJ urges government disclosure regarding attacks in Xinjiang province

(IFJ/IFEX) - March 5, 2012 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned by the reluctance of China's government to release information regarding recent terrorist attacks in the city of Kashi, in the country's western Xinjiang province.

According to official local news reports, on February 28, 13 people were killed by nine attackers armed with knives. Seven of the nine suspects were gunned down by police at the scene, with two others arrested in the city soon afterwards.

However, further information on the attacks has yet to be released by the local government, with only selected media outlets allowed to enter into the city to report on the story.

According to the Article 6, 9 (1) and 10 of China's Disclosure of Government Information Regulations, administrative departments have a duty to release information promptly after incidents of public great concern.

Although IFJ appreciates the government's duty and intention to protect the safety of its people, we believe this can best be done by keeping the public properly informed of incidents related to their safety and security. This cannot be done when official information is provided in a manner that is inconsistent or superficial.

"Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution enshrines press freedom. However, the paucity of official information of serious incidents such as the attacks in Kashi, when coupled with restrictions on media access, frustrate China's progress towards this goal", IFJ Asia-Pacific Office said.

"The IFJ urges the Central Government of China to direct the local government of Xinjiang to strictly follow the Disclosure of Government Information Law, and halt its practice of censoring the media and restricting the access of journalists."

Kashi experienced similar organised attacks over two consecutive days in July 2011. Eight people were killed and 31 injured on July 30, and 5 people killed and 13 injured on July 31.

The ethnically diverse city of Kashi is home to more than 30 different ethnic groups, and was designated a special economic zone by the government in 2010.

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