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More websites blocked; journalist assaulted after taking photographs of industrial accident

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ media release:

IFJ Dismayed by New Blocks on Media in China

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is dismayed to learn that several foreign media websites, including Hong Kong newspaper websites and a legal website, have been blocked in China.

Foreign media websites including the BBC Chinese portal, Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao, Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, which were unblocked during the lead-up to the Olympic Games in August, have been blocked once more.

A legal website, http://www.fatianxia.com , has also been ordered to close after posting several articles including the Charter 08, a joint statement signed by several hundred Chinese journalists, writers, lawyers and activists calling on the National People's Congress Standing Committee to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The administrator of the site was told the closure was due to breaches of domestic law, and the site's hosting service took down the site on December 16.

Zan Aizong, a well-known blogger who also contributed to the site, told the IFJ that his blog has also been blocked after he posted the Charter.

In 2007, China made internet service providers sign a "self-discipline pact" which forces them to censor content and to request the real identities of all bloggers.

China also detained and arrested several of the signatories to the Charter, sparking international protests.

"The IFJ is dismayed that China's authorities are backtracking on their commitments to allow free access to the internet," IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said. "While China claims to respect basic freedoms, it must put its words into action."

The IFJ urges China to unblock access to the websites concerned and allow bloggers and online journalists to work as normal.

The IFJ is also distressed to learn that Wai Wing-hong, a journalist from Ming Pao, was assaulted by construction workers after taking photos of an industrial accident at the City University of Hong Kong on December 16. Wai sustained injuries to his head, waist and hands.

The editor-in-chief of Ming Pao, Cheung Kin-bor, and the Hong Kong Journalists' Association (HKJA), an IFJ affiliate, condemned the violence.

"The IFJ urges the police to investigate this case and demands an apology and compensation for the journalist concerned. Journalists should know they are safe to report without fear of attack."

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide.

For further information on the blocking of websites, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/99372

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