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Three journalists sacked over newspaper and saluting Tiananmen mothers

(RSF/IFEX) - On 7 June 2007, Reporters Without Borders condemned the sacking of three senior editorial staff on Chengdu daily in the southwest, that carried an advertisement saluting mothers of victims of the 4 June 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in which thousands of demonstrators died - to which all reference is banned in China.

"These three journalists are innocent victims twice over," the worldwide press freedom organisation said. "They let through this ad, because one of their staff didn't know what happened on 4 June 1989, so relentless is censorship about this episode."

"These journalists have as a result fallen victim to a purge, which is typical of this government. We call on the authorities to lift these sanctions and to put an end to the censorship of the events of 4 June 1989," it said.

The organisation said it also feared that whoever sent in the advertisement to the paper would be arrested and given a harsh prison sentence.

The Reuters news agency reported on June that three editorial staff on "Chengdu Wanbao" in Sichuan province had been dismissed for letting through a one-line advertisement paying tribute to the brave mothers of 4 June, in reference to the mothers of the victims who keep alive the memory of their children and seek justice for them.

The deputy chief editor, Li Zhaojun, is reportedly one of those hit by the dismissal, which was decided on after an official investigation. The previous evening a Hong Kong daily said that the young employee who passed the ad did not know about the events of June 1989.

She did however phone the person who placed the ad to ask for an explanation and he told her it was in tribute to the victims of a mining accident. Two other papers in Chengdu were asked to take the same ad but its editorial staff refused to take it, realizing the risks involved.

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