China marks Tiananmen anniversary under tight controls
Monday, June 4, marked the 29th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, and as predicted Mainland authorities blocked any discussion or reporting on the anniversary online and in the media. Not a single media outlet reported on the anniversary. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) criticised the actions by the authorities as an attempt to control information and the narrative surrounding the Tiananmen Massacre.
According to several media reports, on June 2, days before the anniversary, searches on Yahoo’s Hong Kong and Taiwan sites did not produce any matches for information or pictures relating to June 4. Yahoo’s Hong Kong office press officer denied any censorship, and instead said it was a technical issue related to the service provider, Microsoft Bing. Microsoft has not provided any explanation for the issue.
One Mainland media outlet told the IFJ that directives had been issued, including all media reports in Guangdong Province could not mention Hong Kong, even entertainment reports could not interview Hong Kong artists. The outlet told the IFJ they weren’t given a reason for the directive, but assume it was because of the date. The outlet also said that this year the restrictions seemed much tighter than previous years, and that cities were receiving specific directives of what couldn’t be mentioned.
Following similar incidents in early years, veteran journalist Gao Yu, and former political secretary, Bao Tong, were forced to ‘travel’ and could not accept media interviews in the lead up to June 4. Members of the Tiananmen Mothers also received similar warnings about interviews, but they were allowed to go to the cemetery, under official escort.
The IFJ said: “The continued efforts by the Government of China to control the flow of information and narrative surrounding the Tiananmen Square Massacre is a violation of the country’s constitution, which guarantees press freedom.”
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