IFJ Seeks Obama Support for Press Freedom in China

The International Federation of Journalists

(IFJ) has written an open letter to the US

President, Barack Obama, urging him to use his upcoming dialogue with China’s President Hu Jintao to stress the social

significance of freedom of the media and to urge China’s highest authorities to

uphold these rights.

 

The  letter  refers President Obama to

Article 35 of China’s Constitution, which enshrines respect for freedom of the

press, and notes President Hu's repeated public statements that China will uphold the right of people in China to

freedom of the press and freedom of expression.   

 

However, the letter notes that China’s central

and provincial propaganda departments have issued more than 200 restrictive

orders to the media this year, directing that media reports must be “positive”

or alternatively they are banned.

 

"During your visit to China, local

media will be required to relay only information approved and disseminated by

government authorities. There will not be free and independent reporting on

your visit by the local media," the letter from IFJ

Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park says.

 

 

The letter refers to the many journalists

and writers jailed in China

for the content of their writings, including Liu Xiaobo, Huang Qi, Shi Tao, Sun

Lin, Hu Jia and Tan Zuoran.

 

"Local and foreign journalists and

media workers, and their assistants, as well as bloggers, Charter 08

signatories and ordinary citizens continue to report harassment and

intimidation, assault and detention without explanation – all at the hands of

local authorities. Interview subjects report similar experiences," the

letter says.

 

The IFJ seeks President Obama's support in

urging China’s ruling authorities to actively uphold press freedom and the

right to free expression for ordinary people in China, and to request that

President Hu and China’s most senior authorities release all prisoners of

conscience, including Liu Xiaobo, Huang Qi, Shi Tao, Hu Jia and Tan Zuoran.