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Journalists prevented from reporting on National Day preparations

(IFJ/IFEX) - September 21, 2009 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls on China's Central Government to ensure that local and foreign journalists are permitted to report on all events in the lead-up to China's National Day on October 1.

According to news reports in Japan, three journalists from Kyodo News were assaulted by unidentified people for taking photographs on September 18 of rehearsals for the National Day military parade. The group reportedly stormed the journalists' Beijing hotel room without warning, physically assaulted the journalists and destroyed their computers by throwing them onto the ground.

The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China said its members also reported receiving warnings not to interview people or take photographs in and around Tiananmen Square in the weeks before the anniversary.

"We received a warning after we filmed the parade on the first day of rehearsal," a cameraman told the IFJ. "They didn't even allow us to stand behind windows to take photos."

In a separate incident, three journalists from NHK Japan Broadcasting were prevented from interviewing online journalist Liu Feivue in Suizhou, Hubei, on September 17. Liu told the IFJ he was harassed by unidentified people who urged him not to grant the interview.

Meanwhile, Beijing-based BBC reporter Michael Bristow said in a news report that Chinese officials were undermining a "zero distance" pledge made by the Press Department of the State Council Information Office on August 13. The pledge stated that all questions submitted to government officials would be answered within 24 hours.

Bristow reportedly submitted a series of questions to various government departments about the National Day celebrations but received no reply or was not provided with adequate information.

"Systematic harassment of and impediments for local and foreign media personnel belie promises by China's authorities to permit the development of a more open media culture. The IFJ urges authorities at all levels to resist the historic tendency to impede the media and instead promote the transparency that serves freedom of expression and association," IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.

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