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Propaganda Department continues to suppress media in mainland China

(IFJ/IFEX) - January 11, 2013 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns directives made by the Central Propaganda Department to mainstream media to republish editorials of the Department-mouth-piece, the Global Times and the threats made against citizens found to be involved with or commenting publicly on the Southern Weekly Magazine protests.

According to reports in the Hong Kong-based newspaper Ming Pao, a Beijing-based newspaper the Beijing News Daily and the Chang Sha-based newspaper Xiao Xiang Chen Bao were asked to republish the editorial of the Global Times in support of the Authority on January 8. The Global Times has repeatedly defended the Authority after the Southern Weekly incident, accusing activists outside Mainland China of instigating the protests. On January 8 the Global Times stated "China's media policy needs reform, but media reform should be in line with China's politics."

According to the Beijing News Daily, the Beijing Provincial Propaganda Department threatened to close the paper when its Editor-in-Chief refused to carry out the directive issued by the Central Propaganda Department. While the Chinese government has a history of issuing directives to media outlets to republish articles in support of the Authority, this is the first time a news outlet has reported being threatened with closure if they did not comply.

In addition, the IFJ has learned that many protestors, media workers and activists have been interrogated, threatened and detained following the Southern Weekly Magazine protests. According to reports, prominent blogger and member of the Chinese Pen, Ye Du, was strip-searched and interrogated by the Guangzhou Police on 7 January for seven hours because he had broadcast the protest on Weibo. He remains under house arrest and his Weibo account has been shut down.

"It is very disappointing to see China's government threatening and punishing citizens and media outlets who are viewed as not serving the interests of the Party," said the IFJ.

The IFJ urges Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping to lift the restrictive directive which prevents the media from fulfilling its duty to report openly and in the public interest to uphold freedom of expression as a basic human right.

Media organizations including the Hong Kong Journalists Association, the Macau Journalists Association, the Taiwan Journalists Association and the Australian Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance issued statements in support of the protests.

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