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IFJ Press Freedom in China Campaign Bulletin - November 2010

(IFJ/IFEX) - November 8, 2010 - In this bulletin:

1. IFJ Welcomes Party Elders' Call for Media Reform in China
2. Nobel Peace Prize for Imprisoned Charter 08 Activist
3. Restrictions On Journalists Covering Xiaobo Award In China
4. Further Restrictions By China In Response To Nobel Award
5. Journalists Prevented From Reporting Protests in China
6. China Security Bureau Confiscates Magazine
7. Editors Amongst Group Prosecuted for Subversion of State Power

1. IFJ Welcomes Party Elders' Call for Media Reform in China

More than 20 Chinese ex-officials issued an open letter to call for an end of media censorship and upholding provisions of China's Constitution. The letter, signed by more than 500 journalists, writers, scholars and others came to light on October 11 and was drafted by 23 veteran Chinese ex-officials including: Li Rui, former Deputy head of the Chinese Communist Party Organisation Department; Zhong Peizhang, former Chief of News Bureau of the Central Propaganda Department; Hu Jiwei, former editor-in-chief of People's Daily; and, Li Pu, former vice-president of Xinhua News Agency. Dated October 1, the letter described the current censorship system in China as a scandal and an embarrassment, dubbing the Propaganda Department "invisible black hands". The letter also demand several changes including dismantling the system where media organisations are tied to government authorities; respecting journalists and accepting their social status; abolishing the cyber-policing system by stopping the deletion of articles or message from the internet; confirming citizens' right to know crimes and mistakes committed by ruling party; launch pilot projects to support citizen-owned media organizations and allow media and publications from Hong Kong and Macau to be openly distributed in China.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/ifj-welcomes-party-elders-call-for-media-reform-in-china


2. Nobel Peace Prize for Imprisoned Charter 08 Activist

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomed the award on October 8 of the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese writer and dissident Liu Xiaobo saying it is another sign that the inexorable march towards free expression in China has become unstoppable. Liu Xiaobo was detained at the end of 2008 just before the release of Charter 08, a manifesto for political reform he helped to draft calling for more freedom of assembly, expression and religion. On December 25, 2009, he was sentenced to eleven years in prison for inciting subversion. The award of the prestigious Peace Prize by the Norwegian Nobel Committee has angered China's leaders.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/ifj-says-peace-prize-is-welcome-boost-for-press-freedom-in-china


3. Restrictions On Journalists Covering Xiaobo Award In China

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) wrote an open letter to the President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and five others top officials in Central Authority of China on 18 October to express deep concerns about the serious restrictions placed on journalists and media workers covering the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo in China. Since the award was made on October 8, the IFJ received a number of complaints from journalists which detailed a series of acts of interference from Chinese authorities, including: preventing journalists from interviewing with Liu Xia, Liu's wife; blocking journalists from interviewing all representatives of various consulates in China; and forcing journalists to leave the area near the Jinzhou prison where Liu is held. According to Article 17 of Regulations of the PRC Concerning Reporting Activities of Permanent Offices of Foreign Media Organizations and Foreign Journalists, Article 6 of Regulations for Hong Kong and Macau Journalists and Article 7 of Regulations for Taiwan Journalists, it clearly states that when seeking to interview individuals in China, journalists and media workers are required only to obtain the prior consent of the interviewee.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/restrictions-on-journalists-reporting-on-liu-and-chen-cases-in-china


4. Further Restrictions By China In Response To Nobel Award

The IFJ was concerned that authorities in China sought immediately to block any reporting or interviewing by local and foreign media on anyone who are acquaintances of Liu Xiaobo since the prize was awarded. Scholars, independent writers, initiators of the pro-democracy Charter 08, including Zhang Zuhua and Jiang Qisheng, lawyers and activists have suffered harassment. Writer Yu Jie and his wife were under house arrest since October 27. Many people were interrogated including scholars including Cui Weiping, Zhou Duo and Zhang Zuhua after they started to a signature campaign and asked for the Central Government to release Liu .Some independent writers including Ye Du (a pen name), were detained by security officers of Guangzhou after they disseminated a leaflet about Liu on the street on November 2. Ye's house was then raided by seven security officers, who removed his two computers and some books about topics including the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre and Christianity. Ye told the IFJ that he is accused of "disrupting social order" by police. A representative of Tiananmen Mothers Ding Zilin and her husband Jiang Peikun lost contact with their friends since October 8. The official website of Charter 08 and other relevant websites such as the Independent Chinese PEN Centre's website and New Century News were received a large scale attack from hackers.

5. Journalists Prevented From Reporting Protests in China

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is disturbed to learn of the detention and interrogation of a group of journalists seeking to report on an anti-Japan protest in Deyang, Sichuan province. Several protests broke out in a number of cities in China around October 23 over a territorial dispute regarding the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands (Chinese official name Daiyu Island). Six foreign journalists from NHK Japan, Japan's Sankei Shimbun newspaper and Reuters travelled to Deyang, arriving at a garden where one protest was scheduled. Deyang Security Bureau officers promptly detained them for two hours, taking them to the local Propaganda Department office. The security officers then escorted the journalists to Chengdu airport demanded them to leave based on "personal safety". "The journalists are permitted to conduct interviews with any individuals who consent, under Article 17 of the Regulations of the People's Republic of China Concerning Reporting Activities of Permanent Offices of Foreign Media Organisations and Foreign Journalists. The IFJ urges China's Central authorities to direct all provincial government and local security bureau officers to permit all journalists to exercise their duties without restraint, in accordance with the regulations for the foreign correspondents.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/journalists-prevented-from-reporting-protests-in-china


6. China Security Bureau Confiscates Magazine

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is disturbed to learn that the Beijing Security Bureau has confiscated copies of a free magazine. Bureau officers confiscated The Holy Mountain, a Christian magazine published by Zhongfu Holy Mountain Institute, in Beijing on October by 27 without explanation. According to Radio Free Asia, Fan Yafeng, who is in charge of the magazine, said the printing company advised him that security bureau officers raided the printing premises and removed all the magazines. The action is reminiscent of the confiscation of The Holy Mountain during the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. Fan, a well-known legal scholar and activist for religious freedom, is a signatory of Charter 08, the pro-democracy document signed by prominent journalists, writers, activists and academics. Fan told Radio Free Asia that the security bureau may intend to charge him with illegally publishing a book for commercial sale. The Holy Mountain is a free magazine distributed to the Christian community in Beijing since 2007. The IFJ urges China's authorities to recognise that the confiscation of the magazine breaches Article 35 of China's Constitution, which enshrines the right to a free press.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/china-security-bureau-confiscates-magazine


7. Editors Amongst Group Prosecuted for Subversion of State Power

Three Tibetan editors writers were prosecuted for allegedly inciting the subversion of state power in Sichuan. Radio Free Asia reported on October 21 that three Tibetans might have prosecuted of inciting subversion of state power in Sichuan after they wrote some articles about the March 2008 unrest in Tibet. The report said that two out of three are editors of Eastern Snow Mountain, the other a medical practitioner. The judiciary has not announced a hearing date.

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