Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned about a blanket ban by China’s Central Propaganda Department on
reporting by any media, including the state-owned Xinhua News Agency, of an
explosion in western China
that killed seven people.
The ban was issued immediately after the explosion in Aksu City,
Xinjiang, Uyghur Autonomous Region, on August 19. Fourteen people were injured.
The order said media must not republish any reports by Xinhua
News Agency or Xinjiang local media outlets, or compile individual
Xinhua reported that the explosion was caused by a bomb, and
that a suspect was arrested at the scene. “The motive behind what appears to be
a bomb blast in China’s
western Xinjiang region is not yet clear,” the Xinhua report said. “But many
will suspect it is linked to the region’s ongoing ethnic tension.”
The IFJ urges China’s authorities to lift the reporting
ban immediately, as in times of crisis it is essential that the public is able
to access updated and credible information.
“Blanket bans and restricting people’s access to the news will
allow rumour and hearsay to proliferate,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.
“Distorted information risks inflaming already tense
situations, which is partly what happened around the time of riots in the Uyghur
Autonomous Region in 2009.”
China’s authorities are particularly
sensitive about Xinjiang, where the Central Government alleges a separatist
movement is on the rise. Almost 200 people were killed in July 2009 during
riots sparked by ethnic tension.
In the wake of the unrest, many restrictive orders were issued
by local authorities and the Central Propaganda Department. All internet and
communication devices were shut down by the local government until mid-May
The IFJ reminds China’s authorities that under Article
19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, freedom of expression includes
the right for people to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through
“This latest in a long line of restrictive orders is a clear
contravention of Article 35 of China’s Constitution, which enshrines the right
to freedom of expression,” White said.
“The IFJ urges President Hu Jintao, Central Propaganda
Department Director Liu Yunshan, and the Minister of General Administration of
Press and Publication, Liu Binjie, to revoke the latest order without delay.”
For further information contact IFJ
Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125
Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific