Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned by reports that six people are being detained by police in Beijing,
China and that sixteen Chinese websites have been closed down by authorities.
According to a report by the British
newspaper The Guardian on April 1, the
spokesperson of China’s State Internet Information Office said that rumours had
been, “fabricated by some lawless people and had been a bad influence on the
public.” However the spokesperson did not elaborate further on the nature of
the bad influence.
According to a report on 30th March by
the Xinhua News Agency (theofficial news agency of the People’s Republic
of China), sixteen websites were shut down by Chinese
authorities following their reports claiming military vehicles entered Beijing
in response to political conflict associated with the dismissal of former
Governor of Chongqing City, Bo Xilai.
Two of China’s most popular microblog service
companies, Sina and Tencent, suffered clampdowns for similar reasons. According
to reports from various overseas media, both companies were forced to disable
their comment functions for three days.
Xinhua also reported that six people were detained by Beijing police for
spreading rumours on the internet, with many others receiving official
reprimands for similar activities. Li Delin, a
Mainland journalist, is also believed to have been detained by police for the
same reason. Li has not been seen since March 23.
“Chinese laws that allow the police to punish
anyone for spreading rumours through the internet allow for easy abuse.” IFJ
Asia-Pacific office said.
“According to Principle 6 of the Johannesburg
Principles on National Security, Freedom of Expression and Access to
Information, Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, expression
may be punished as a threat to national security only if a government can
(a) the expression is intended to incite
(b) it is likely to incite such violence; and
(c) there is a direct and immediate
connection between the expression and the likelihood or occurrence of such
There is no evidence that the six people
recently detained, or journalist Li Delin, were inciting violence in this
manner. As such, the IFJ questions the arbitrary nature of these detentions.
The IFJ urges the Central Government of China
to amend the relevant law to incorporate this international standard, and demand
the Beijing Police release those detained for exercising their freedom of
We also urge the State Internet Information
Office to re-open the sixteen websites forced to shut down, and provide a clear
explanation for the reasons of their closure.
further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131
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