The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) strongly criticizes the recent actions by the Government of Shanwei, Guangdong, against journalists covering protests in Wukan village. The IFJ calls on the local government to end its attack on the media and guarantee the freedom of the press.
On June 21, Shi Shuoyan, the spokesperson for the Shanwei prefecture-level city government accused to Hong Kong-based media outlets, Apple Daily and Initium, of instigating, orchestrating and directing a series of protests in Wukan village. Shi said that the government would act according to the law, without further elaborating the actions against the media outlets. Following the statement, five journalists from the outlets left Wukan village, fearing for their personal safety. Apple Daily refuted the allegations and insisted that the journalists had no involvement in the protests.
On the evening of June 17, the former elected chief of Wukan village, Lin Zulian, was arrested by local police and accused of accepting bribes. June prior to Lin’s arrest, he had posted an open letter online to launch a protest to be held on June 19, demanding justice for the illegal land sales and unauthorized construction on village land.
Following Lin’s arrest, his grandson was reportedly taken away by unidentified people. Lin’s wife received a phone call from Lin, who asked his wife not to join any of the protests. Locals were agitated by Lin’s arrest. Following the protests on June 19, local Guangdong media only reported on them in line with the government line, or withheld all reporting.
On June 21, local media in Wukan broadcasted Lin making a confession in front of government officials.
The IFJ Asia-Pacific Office said: “The continued use of televised confessions by the Chinese government is a tool of intimidation and an attempt to silence critical and dissident voices. Since January 2016, the IFJ has recorded five televised confessions.”
“The IFJ also criticizes the actions of the Shanwei government against the Hong Kong media who were covering the protests. Ensuring press freedom and the safety of the media should be paramount to the local government. The allegations against Apple Daily and Initium are an attack on press freedom and another tool of intimidation.”
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946
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