Heavy Security Clamps Down on Free Movement in China


The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the latest efforts of security officials in China to restrict the movement of journalists, academics and bloggers on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4.


Zeng Jinyan, a blogger and the wife of imprisoned human rights defender Hu Jia, and her young daughter were prevented from leaving their house by several security bureau officers on June 3, despite Zeng telling them she intended to collect a cake for her mother’s birthday, a blogger told the IFJ.


Zeng has been under house arrest and constant security surveillance since Hu’s detention on December 27, 2007. Hu was convicted on April 4, 2008, of “inciting subversion of state power” for publicly expressing concern about human rights abuses in China and agreeing to be interviewed by an overseas online news site. He was jailed for three-and-a-half years.


The IFJ also received reports that security officers had blocked the movement of as many as 50 people listed as signatories to the pro-democracy petition Charter 08, which was published on December 10, 2008, and calls for political and democratic reform in China, including assurance of the right to freedom of expression.


One signatory told the IFJ the group was instructed in late May by security personnel to remain in their houses and not to talk to journalists or visitors. Otherwise they would be removed from Beijing.


“We believe those demands were related to the June 4 Tiananmen Square massacre,” one of the signatories said. “We are furious at what the security bureau did. They are depriving us of our constitutional rights which clearly state that citizens of China have the right to freedom of movement and expression.”


A blogger told the IFJ that he had planned to visit Hong Kong on May 31 in order to attend a June 4 anniversary march,but a security officer prevented him from leaving mainland China at the border. He said the officer did not give him any explanation.


“I was really surprised they knew my plan because I had only told my family and a friend of mine,he said.    


A former online manager of a China-based website told the IFJ that the social networking websites Twitter and flickr had been blocked by authorities since June 2 without warning or explanation. “The situation this year is even worse than the year of 2008,” he said.


“Restricting the right of people to express their views and to talk with journalists breaks the promise made by authorities in China to permit and promote greater openness and freedom of expression,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.


“Clearly, Charter 08, which calls for freedom of expression among other rights, has touched a nerve. The continuing efforts of authorities to shut down all discussion about important issues violate the fundamental rights which the Charter seeks for the people of China.”


For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919


The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide