The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) strongly condemns the arrest of a freelance writer in China on World Press Freedom Day.
Zhou Yuanzhi, a freelance writer and social commentator, was detained in Zhongxiang City, Hubei Province, in central China, on May 3 and charged with “inciting subversion of state power”. According to the Independent Chinese PEN Centre (ICPC), Zhou’s wife was also detained by representatives of the National Security Bureau and later released into house arrest.
Zhou has written for the Voice of America news service and for Chinese and international websites. His articles have been critical of China’s Government on social and economic issues.
The charge brought against Zhou is the same as was used to convict Hu Jia in a Beijing court on April 3. Hu was sentenced to three-and-a-half years’ jail for posting articles on the US-based website Boxun critical of the Chinese Government’s policy toward people with HIV/AIDS.
Hu’s lawyer, Li Fangping, said in a written submission to a seminar organised by the Hong Kong Journalists’ Association (HKJA), an IFJ affiliate, that the law on “inciting subversion of state power” was vague and could be used to trap people merely for exercising their constitutional right to freedom of expression
“The repeated use of this charge against journalists and writers clearly demonstrates China’s lack of interest in permitting a free press,” said Jacqueline Park, IFJ Asia-Pacific Director. “The charge lends itself to repression of free and fair comment.
“It is a bitter irony that Zhou’s detention came on World Press Freedom Day, as journalists around the world together called for greater freedoms in China.”
Boxun also reported this week that the deputy editor of the daily Nanfang Dushi Bao (Southern Metropolis Weekly), Chang Ping, had been removed from his position after publishing editorials critical of the Government’s actions toward Tibetan protesters in recent months.
The actions against Zhou and Chang come after writer Zhang Yu was prevented from entering Hong Kong on April 29 to attend the HKJA’s “One Dream: Freedom of Expression in China” seminar. Zhang told the HKJA and the IFJ that he was held by immigration authorities in Hong Kong before being sent back to his home in Stockholm. He was refused the right to appeal.
Two other ICPC members, Zhao Dagong and Wen Kejian, were denied entry to Hong Kong from the mainland to attend the seminar.
“China’s Government must make good on its pre-Olympics promises to open up the media,” said Park. “This week’s clampdown further damages China’s reputation in the lead-up to the Games.”
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries