Xi Jinping, Vice President of China
Wen Jiabao, Premier of China
Meng Jianzhu, Minister of Public Security
Sir Donald Tsang Yam-Kuen, Chief Executive of Hong Kong
Peng Qinghua, Director of Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council
September 7, 2009
Abuses in Xinjiang and Sichuan
Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is alarmed to receive reports that Chinese
authorities used force and violence to prevent journalists and media workers reporting
on matters of major public interest in Xinjiang and Sichuan provinces.
The IFJ is informed that Xinjiang paramilitary police assaulted
three Hong Kong journalists and harassed several others who were reporting on a
public protest in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur
Autonomous Region, on September 5.
According to local sources, police handcuffed and
detained journalist Lam Tsz-ho and cameraman Lau Wing-chuan, of Television
Broadcast (TVB), as well as Now
Television cameraman Lam Chun-wai. They were reportedly held for more than
three hours after covering the police use of tear gas in the protest. Police
allegedly pointed a gun at Lam Tsz-ho to compel him to adhere to their orders. The
three media workers reported injuries to their shoulders, necks and heads.
In a separate incident, five Hong
Kong journalists were reportedly detained at another public protest
on September 6. They were harassed and escorted to their hotel by police, and
thus prevented from doing their jobs in reporting on a matter of public interest.
In another incident in Sichuan Province
on August 12, police prevented Now Television journalist Wong Ka-yu and her cameraman
from reporting on the trial of poet Tan Zuoren. The journalists were accused of
possessing illegal substances and held in their hotel room until the trial was
finished. After searching the hotel room, police found no illegal substances
and the journalists were released. The IFJ is concerned that the police were
explicitly seeking to prevent the journalists from attending the trial hearing.
The IFJ respectfully reminds China’s central and
provincial authorities that this aggressive escalating police interference against
the media not only restricts’ journalists from conducting their profession but
is a violation of China’s stated commitment to improving freedoms under its
National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2009-2010), published by the
Central Government on 13 April 2009 .
Section 5 of the Action Plan states that China’s Government
will make all efforts to provide all information pertaining to matters of
public interest and government affairs, including the management of emergencies,
disasters and public riots.
Police efforts to prevent journalists and media workers doing
their jobs in Xinjiang and Sichuan provinces contravenes the principles of the Action
Plan and underscores the failure of China’s authorities and governments at
various levels to meet internationally held standards of information access,
press freedom and freedom of expression, as enshrined in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights.
The IFJ respectfully reminds Vice-President Xi Jinping
and Premier Wen Jiaobao that the manner in which Xinjiang and Sichuan
police treated the above journalists and media workers is a serious violation
of the principles of press freedom and freedom of movement as enshrined in China’s
Constitution, as well as the spirit National Human Rights Action Plan.
The IFJ calls on Premier Wen to urge the Minister of
China’s Security Bureau and the Xinjiang Governor to conduct an investigation
into these incidents and publicly report the results as a means to reaffirm China’s
commitment to improving freedom of the media, freedom of expression and access
to information in China.
International Federation of Journalists