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IFJ Press Freedom in China Campaign Bulletin - February 2011

(IFJ/IFEX) - February 8, 2011 - In this bulletin:

1. New IFJ Report Shines Light on Media Restrictions, New Handbook Launched
2. New Year, New Orders From Propaganda Departments
3. Newspaper Editor-in-Chief and Journalists Sacked, Fined
4. Journalist Forced to Resign, Colleagues Targeted
5. Journalist Detained When Reporting Stadium Collapse
6. Tibetan Writers Jailed for Writing Magazine Articles
7. IFJ Urges Medical Parole for Hu Jia
8. Ban on Epitaph on Journalist's Memorial Stone
9. Foreign Correspondent Interrogated in Hubei Province
10. Liu Xiaobo Nobel Ceremony Reports Banned, Censored
11. Journalist Dies After Brutal Assault
12. Journalists Harassed, Assaulted at Zhao Lianhai Residential Compound


1. New IFJ Report Shines Light on Media Restrictions, New Handbook Launched

Media in China and abroad have drawn attention to a new IFJ report which covers scores of restrictive orders issued by China's authorities in 2010 that block information on public health, disasters, corruption and civil unrest. "Voices of Courage: Press Freedom in China 2010", was released by the IFJ Asia-Pacific in Hong Kong on January 30 and is now available online in English, and in Traditional and Simplified Chinese. IFJ also launched a handbook which provides advice to assist in protecting journalists and media professionals in their daily work. "The Handbook for Investigative Reporting in China" also lists Chinese laws and international instruments which journalists can cite when contending with vexatious and unwarranted actions from authorities. The handbook is available in Simplified and Traditional Chinese and in English.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/new-ifj-report-outlines-restrictions-on-journalists-in-china-in-2010

http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/pages/ifj-asia-pacific-reports-and-handbooks

2. New Year, New Orders From Propaganda Authorities

The IFJ learned that scores of directives were reviewed following the annual meeting on January 5 of propaganda officials including Minister of Central Propaganda Department Liu Yunshan and member of Central Politburo Standing Committee Li Changchun. According to Radio France Internationale, directives were comprised of ten points, with some controlling the reporting of disasters and accidents. Central news media outlets are allowed to report developments when major disasters or accidents strike, but no live reporting or broadcasting is permitted. However, non-local media outlets are not allowed to report if the incident causes the deaths of less than 10 people. The directives also demand that journalists not question whether housing demolitions have followed legal processes and reports of protests, suicides or requests for "unreasonable" compensation relating to housing demolitions are banned. Media are also prevented from reporting demonstrations.

3. Newspaper Editor-in-Chief and Journalists Sacked, Fined

The IFJ was troubled to learn that seven staff members of Chengdu Commercial Newspaper, including its editor-in-chief, were sacked or fined for an alleged error in a story. The journalists were punished without a clear explanation following a December 12 report about a group of 18 adolescents who had become lost that day on Huangshan Mountain, Anhui Province in China's east. In the wake of the report, Shanghai Police issued a statement that denied they were under pressure to cooperate with Anhui police to rescue the trapped adolescents. Newspaper management responded to the events by sacking journalist Long Can who had worked in newspapers for a decade. The other six people including editor-in-chief Chen Shuping, subject editor Zhang Feng, the assignment editor and the editorial board were penalised either with fines from CNY 1000 to 3000 (around USD150 to 450), demotions, suspensions or reprimands.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/journalists-sacked-fined-without-explanation-in-china

4. Journalist Forced to Resign, Colleagues Targeted

China's Central Propaganda Department blatantly interfered in a newsroom, forcing an outspoken critic to resign and pushing for the removal of three other editors from their current roles. Journalist Zhang Ping (a pen name), 40, was forced by its editor-in-chief to leave Southern Metropolis Newspaper on January 27 after the vice director of the Central Propaganda Department visited the office the week before. Publication of Zhang's columns has been suspended from Southern Metropolis Newspaper and Southern Weekly since July 2010 without a clear reason. At a meeting on January 27 newspaper management demanded that Zhang ceased writing critical columns, but Zhang refused. Management responded by refusing to renew his contract. The IFJ also learned that another three editors were forced to move to other sections. The IFJ called on the All-China Journalists' Association to protect the journalists in this case.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/journalist-forced-to-resign-colleagues-targeted-in-china

5. Journalist Detained When Reporting Stadium Collapse

Journalist Bai Ning of state-owned Central National Radio was harassed and blocked by various government officials and police on January 6. Reports said Bai was blocked and searched by a security agent when he arrived at a construction site in Ordos City, Inner Mongolia, to report the collapse of a stadium. When he attempted to take images of the site he was detained by officers of the City Urban Administrative and Law Enforcement Bureau and local police, who accused him of capturing images without permission before he was escorted to the local police station. One of the senior police officers and a local propaganda department official explained to Bai that images were not allowed under the instruction of local government officials. Bai reported that his driver was also harassed by an unknown caller.

6. Tibetan Writers Jailed for Writing Magazine Articles

Three Tibetan writers, Kalsang Jinpa, Jangtse Donkho and Buddha, aged 32 to 34, were each sentenced to between three and four years' imprisonment on December 30 for inciting separatism in Aba, in the eastern Tibetan plateau, in articles they had written for the magazine Shar Dhung-Ri (Eastern Conch Hill) regarding the 2008 Tibet riots. Radio Free Asia reported that the trial began with a half-day hearing on October 28 at which they were not given competent interpreters. At the final hearing on December 30, the defendants, their lawyers and their families were not allowed to speak. Kalsang Jinpa was sentenced to three years in prison, while Jangtse Donkho and Buddha were jailed for four years.

7. IFJ Urges Medical Parole for Hu Jia

The IFJ wrote an open letter on January 19 to China's Minister of Justice Wu Aiying calling for prompt treatment and medical parole for jailed writer Hu Jia. A letter of petition from Hu's wife Zeng Jinyan said the writer was suffering from intense abdominal pain on January 14 when she visited him in Beijing Prison. Hu has since been transferred to the prison's hospital but Zeng was prevented from accompanying him and has not been provided with any updated information on his condition. Hu had a liver problem before he was detained but his health has deteriorated since he was imprisoned in 2009.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/ifj-urges-medical-parole-for-hu-jia-in-china

8. Ban on Epitaph on Journalist's Memorial Stone

Chinese journalist and writer Liu Binyan was finally laid to rest in China five years after he died in exile in the United States. Liu's ashes were transported to China in December for interring at Tianshan Cemetery, but China's authorities banned Liu's family from engraving the writer's chosen epitaph on his memorial stone: "The Chinese man who rests here did what he should have done and said what he should have said." The memorial stone only carries his Chinese name characters and the dates "1925-2005". At the ceremony Liu's son Liu Dahong said: "Today is the winter solstice. The winter solstice is a day when the Chinese bury their dead. Let us remember him. Let us remember the way he spurned the banquets of the rich and powerful and chose to stand on the side of conscience and the people. Let us remember the rough path that his life took, and how he fought unremittingly against the darkness, raising his voice for those who were oppressed and disgraced."

9. Foreign Correspondent Interrogated in Hubei Province

Foreign journalist Daniel Vincent of Sky Television was interrogated by police in Enshi City, Hubei province, on December 21, after he tried to interview people who had been sentenced to re-education twice. Chinese Human Rights Defenders, http://chrdnet.org , reported that Vincent was blocked by a local police officer before he was escorted to a police station. Vincent was released after he was interrogated by police for twenty minutes.

10. Liu Xiaobo Nobel Ceremony Reports Banned, Censored

On the eve of the December 10 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, the IFJ issued an open letter to the Central Authorities of China calling for the lifting of blanket bans and restrictions around imprisoned human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, his wife Liu Xia and Liu's supporters. Liu Xia, along with Charter 08 signatories including one instigator of the reform manifesto, Zhang Zuhua, and other family members were placed under house shortly after the prize was announced by the Nobel Committee on October 8, and were by authorities not to accept media interviews or attend the ceremony. Many scholars, lawyers and artists were also prevented from leaving the country.

The IFJ has learned that Zhang and Liu remain under house arrest and are denied access the internet. As the ceremony approached, one of China's largest and most influential media groups warned staff members not to mention Xiaobo in social media platforms, including personal blogs and microblogging applications. Meanwhile the IFJ also learned that an unknown senior official of Hong Kong's Chinese Liaison Office, an agency of China's Central Authorities, called senior management at four Hong Kong broadcasters, urging them not to undertake live broadcasts during the ceremony. Electronic transmission signals of Hong Kong broadcasters were blocked on December 9 by mainland authorities in Guangdong province. There were reports that a number of foreign media websites including the BBC and Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) were interrupted in Beijing.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/restrictions-on-china-jailed-nobel-laureate-and-supporters-must-cease

http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/china-media-group-bans-journalists-from-speaking-of-xiaobo-case

11. Journalist Dies After Brutal Assault

Journalist Sun Hongjie fell into a deep coma after he suffered head injuries in a brutal beating by up to five unknown assailants on the night of December 18. Sun, a reporter at Beijiang Morning Newspaper in China's north-western province of Xinjiang, died on December 28, according to reports. Sun was an investigative reporter who had covered a series of sensitive issues, but police and his employer denied that the assault was work-related.

12. Journalists Harassed, Assaulted at Zhao Lianhai Residential Compound

Hong Kong journalists shared the same experience as their mainland counterparts when they reported on jailed tainted milk victim and activist Zhao Lianhai. The IFJ learned that Radio and Television of Hong Kong journalist Teresa Wong was slapped by a residential committee member at Zhao's family compound on December 10. Around 10 Beijing-based Hong Kong journalists went in three groups to the residential compound in Daxing District after receiving reports that Zhao had been released on medical parole. When journalists arrived, they were harassed and pushed by more than a dozen people including members of the residential committee. Zhao was sentenced to a 2 and 1/2-year jail term on November 10 for "provoking quarrels and making trouble, after campaigning for victims of the 2008 melamine scandal.

See: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/police-witness-assault-on-journalists-in-china

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