Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes the awarding of the 2010 Nobel Peace
Prize to writer and Charter 08 initiator Liu Xiaobo, currently jailed in north-eastern
However, the IFJ is concerned that
authorities in China
sought immediately to block any reporting by local and foreign media on the
award, announced on October 8.
Liu, a renowned scholar, was
sentenced to 11 years’ jail on December 25, 2009, accused of agitation to
subvert the Government.
He had previously been jailed four times
because of his articles about the 1989
Tiananmen Square Massacre and his urging of China’s
Government to move peacefully to democracy.
“China’s Constitution enshrines the
freedom of expression defended by Liu in his work, as well as the right of
media to report on his situation – including his detention and the awarding of
the peace prize to him,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan
“We urge China’s authorities to recognise
their own Constitution and not obstruct reporting on matters of public
interest, including Liu’s situation.
“In deference to China’s
Constitution, we call for the immediate unconditional release of Liu and other
journalists and writers unjustly jailed for exercising their constitutional
right to express their views freely.”
The Nobel Committee’s decision to
honour Liu irked authorities in China,
who condemned the award and issued a verbal order that no media was to publish
information about the award or create conditions for discussion about it.
Since October 8, China’s
Security Bureau has prevented local and foreign media from interviewing Liu’s
wife, Liu Xia, as well as other initiators of the pro-democracy Charter 08,
including Zhang Zuhua and Jiang Qisheng, who remain under heavy surveillance.
Security personnel in Jinzhou city, Liaoning
Province, where Liu is detained,
restricted Hong Kong media seeking to report
on a visit by Liu’s wife to see her husband at the weekend. They were ordered
to leave the prison premises, and not to take photos in or near the prison.
After meeting Liu at the prison on
October 10, Liu Xia was reportedly escorted back to Beijing and placed under house arrest, according
to news reports.
One local journalist said after the
ban was issued that “a few journalists were ‘invited’ to talk with
plain-clothes personnel of the Security Bureau. I don’t know why but I believe
the authorities are quite worried that some journalists are not loyal
The Nobel Committee also highlighted
noting, “Article 35 of China’s constitution lays down that ‘Citizens of the
People’s Republic of China
enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of
procession and of demonstration.’ In practice, these freedoms have proved to be
distinctly curtailed for China’s
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