Government Imposes Media Blackout on Village Protests in China

 

The International Federation of Journalists

(IFJ) condemns the blocking of news reports of protests over a death in police

custody in Wukan Village,

Lufeng in China’s southern Guangdong Province.

 

On December 12 hundreds of police confronted

thousands of villagers demonstrating against the death of a local villager and political

interference in local elections. Although the story has been covered by the English-language

edition of an official Chinese Communist Party newspaper, Global Times,

all Chinese-language reporting has been censored.

 

The demonstrators called on senior government

officials to investigate the sudden death of villager Xue Jinbo, 42, on December

11. According to cable television news reports in Hong

Kong, it is suspected that Xue was tortured to death.

 

Xue’s daughter has said that upon examining Xue’s

body at the hospital, they found his body covered in bruises and one of his

thumbs broken. According to Global Times English-language edition, Xue's

family also reported that his nails were missing and several of his ribs were

broken. 

 

Xue and the other four people were taken away

by local police on December 9, after they demonstrated against perceived

political interference in village elections in September. Two days later, Xue’s

family was informed that he had died of a heart attack.   

 

In response, thousands of villagers

demonstrated and called on senior government officials to investigate Xue’s

death. They also complained about political interference in the election of

village representatives, after 500 hectares of village land were sold to

developers without any compensation being paid. Hundreds of policemen were sent

to Wukan to prevent anyone from leaving the village.

 

“It is very distressing that all Chinese-language

media outlets have been forbidden from reporting on these matters of great

public interest,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director

Jacqueline Park said.

 

“This decision by Chinese authorities clearly

shows an intention to block this information from the majority of Chinese

citizens, and undermines China’s

claims to support press freedom.”

 

The tactic of censoring Chinese-language

reports, while allowing English-language reporting, has been used a number of

times by Chinese authorities. In April 2011, Global Times English-language

service was allowed to report on the detention of dissident artist Ai Weiwei by

Beijing police,

and the sentencing of 2010 Nobel Peace Laureate, Liu Xiaobo, to 11 years imprisonment

in 2009.       

 

The IFJ urges the President of China Hu

Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao to challenge the Central Propaganda Department

and State Internet Information Office’s heavy handed censorship of local media

outlets and online news reporting, and allow the media greater freedom to report.

 

 

The IFJ also urges the international

community to focus attention on recent events in Wukan, and push China’s

Government to provide a full and transparent explanation of the events

surrounding Xue’s death and allegations of interference in local elections

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

 

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IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific 

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