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Journalists from six Hong Kong media outlets ordered out of Lhasa, placed under escort

(HKJA/IFEX) - On 17 March 2008, journalists from at least six Hong Kong media outlets were placed under escort and ordered out of Lhasa, Tibet.

The HKJA considers these actions to be an unacceptable breach of the "Measures for the Reporting of Activities in the Mainland Conducted by the Journalists of Hong Kong and Macau during the Beijing Olympic Games and the Preparatory Period", a policy implemented since January 2007. According to the Measures, reporters are free to interview people so long as consent is secured from the interviewees. Reporters from Hong Kong covering the news in Lhasa are thus acting legally and appropriately, in meeting the public's right to information.

Furthermore, the guidelines issued by the Organising Committee of the Beijing Olympic Games state: "If security issues arise when journalists of Hong Kong and Macau are covering public spots news, they can ask for help from the security or aid officials on the spot." Instead of banning journalists from covering news in Lhasa, the local authorities should provide assistance to them to ensure that they can safely fulfill their duties.

The HKJA is concerned that banning Hong Kong reporters from covering news in Tibet will only arouse suspicion in the outside world that the Tibet government is covering up certain facts. It will be detrimental to the image of China as a country that is striving to be more open.

According to human rights experts, human rights are more vulnerable in situations of conflict and thus it is all the more necessary for journalists to be present in such situations to safeguard the observance of human rights.

The HKJA urges the authorities to reconsider their actions and to allow journalists to continue reporting in Lhasa.

Updates alert on the information clampdown in Tibet:

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