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Citizen journalists targeted amid ongoing clampdown

(IFJ/IFEX) - May 17, 2011 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned by new reports that authorities in China are targeting individuals amid an ongoing clampdown to limit reporting in China on the "jasmine" revolution in the Middle East and North Africa since December.

The IFJ has learned that many citizen journalists and activists have been detained or charged by the Security Bureau of China. At least three people have been charged with various offences without being informed of the incidents in which the alleged offences took place.

Wang Lihong, an activist who posted reports on detained Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo online and regularly provided information to media on the use of violent tactics by government officials and controversial evictions, was charged on April 20 with disrupting public order.

According to a Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch report on May 6, Wang was arrested and her house was ransacked by Beijing police on March 21. A computer and books were removed by officers.

Wang's family has received no information regarding alleged offences committed by Wang. According to Radio Free Asia on May 13, Wang's health is deteriorating and her lawyer has applied for medical parole.

Meanwhile, Liu Feiyue, website manager at Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch, told the IFJ that many citizen journalists and human rights activists have experienced human rights abuses from provincial security bureaus.

"My internet access was suddenly disconnected by the internet service provider China TieTong Telecom on April 30, a day after they received an order from the officer of Suizhou Government, in Hubei province," Liu said. "The staff said the officer claimed that I had been browsing 'illegal websites' but did not specify any website in particular."

Liu, whose mobile phone and fax machine were also shut down on May 1 for several days, said the Suizhou security bureau had warned him not to participate in or report on protests in China.

Zheng Chuangtian, a volunteer with the Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch website, was charged with inciting subversion of state power by police of Huilai county, in Jieyang, Guangdong province on February 26, after he re-tweeted information relating to the Middle East protests. He was released on bail on March 28.

Other activists targeted in the clampdown include lawyer Ni Yuhan, who was detained and charged on April 6 with inciting social disorder, after police broke into her house. Her daughter was informed on April 13 that her mother had been prosecuted, but was not told of her mother's whereabouts. Ni's husband Dong Jiqin has been detained since April 6 without explanation.

Among other activists detained or harassed is Zhang Jiannan, also known as secretary Zhang, the administrator of bulletin board services 1984BBS, Zhou Li, Shen Peihan and Xiao Yong.

"An accountable and responsible government has a duty to protect people and maintain social order," IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

"Yet China's Government is repeatedly abusing its power by continually depriving people of their fundamental rights, including by the monitoring and disabling communications services."

The IFJ urges the United Nations Human Rights Commission to investigate human rights conditions in China, including in regard to restrictions on information and media reporting.

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