China cracks down on media and public in lead up to Tiananmen Square anniversary

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has spoken out about the ongoing crackdowns in China in the lead up to the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Three media workers have been detained by Beijing Police in recent weeks and hundreds of citizens have had their rights violated.

Xiang Nanfu, 62, a citizen journalist with US-based, was arrested on May 3 on accusations of making false reports, according to a report by state-owned news agency Xinhua on May 13. Xinhua said Xiang was charged with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. It cited a report headlined “Human organ harvesting from living; people buried alive” and said the reports had damaged China’s global reputation. China Central Television broadcast Xiang’s confession. Boxun said there was no such report on its website, adding that the site had suffered a series of cyber attacks recently.

Vivian Wu, a former journalist with Hong Kong South China Morning Post and a senior consultant to Internews, an international non-profit media training organization, was reportedly detained on May 9. Beijing police did not confirm the report, but it is widely believed Wu was detained because she expressed concern about the arrest of human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang. Pu was arrested for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” on May 6 with other four scholars and human rights activists after they attended a private gathering to mark the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

Additionally, an unidentified Chinese researcher with the Japan Economic Times News Agency, or Nikkei Inc, was reported to have been taken away by Beijing police. Hong Kong Oriental Daily said the “disappearance” was believed to be related to Pu’s arrest. Beijing police did not confirm the report.

The IFJ said: “It is widely known that the Chinese authorities crack down on the media when the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre is around the corner. However, it is unexpected that police would extend its iron fist by detaining media personnel working for overseas organisations.”

“Beijing Police are abusing their power by detaining people without any evidence that they have violated any law.”

The crackdown is spreading to ordinary citizens.

Global Times reported on May 12 that Xinjiang Police have arrested 232 people on charges of distributing violent or terrorist videos. Legal Daily reported that 71 of those arrested were in criminal detention, 107 were in administrative detention and 34 people had been prosecuted. Since March 31, the Xinjiang authorities have cracked down on 2229 web links.

In Zhejiang Province, seven people were punished with five to 10 days’ administrative detention on accusations of spreading rumours about the deaths of civilians during the May 10 protest against a planned installation of incinerator in Hangzhou City. Hangzhou police revealed the content of the alleged rumours to the Mainland media.

The IFJ said: “China’s police have a duty to show the evidence to all media when any accusation is made, rather than casually detaining people without explaining how their actions have broken the law.”

“It is deeply worrying that the public is being deprived of its right to know, while the police are depriving people of their freedom of movement. We call on the Chinese authorities to stop harassing media personnel and either immediately release all detained media workers or outline charges that explain exactly why they have been detained.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

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