The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned to learn that mainstream Hong Kong newspapers removed items regarding the 20th anniversary of the June 4 Tiananmen Square massacre on the instruction of senior officials.
It is unclear whether the instruction was made in Hong Kong or Beijing, but mainland subscribers to three Hong Kong newspapers –Ming Pao Newspaper, Hong Kong Economic Times and South China Morning Post – found that parts of the newspapers were missing and delivery was delayed.
Ming Pao reported in an editorial on May 28 that publication of its papers had been delayed or some of the pages in its editions had been reported missing since May 19. The censored papers were distributed to mainland subscribers.
According to an anonymous source from the delivery agency for Ming Pao, the delayed delivery and missing pages were reportedly a result of “senior instruction” to remove articles and references to June 4.
The action comes as China’s Central Government is clamping down further to prevent internet users, bloggers and online journalists from accessing or posting any information relating to Tiananmen.
A blogger, who asked to remain anonymous, told the IFJ that online discussion about the June 4 anniversary had been occurring until a few weeks ago, when any mention of messages or text related to the anniversary vanished.
The search engine Baidu is also reportedly limiting online users, mainly university students, from uploading messages on its campus forum page. A website called China Think (www.chinathink.net) containing intellectual discussions including about June 4 was shut down on May 25 without explanation.
“Press freedom in any country requires that matters of public interest not be tailored to exclude subjects considered by authorities to be taboo,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.
“Any act to physically remove media reports on the June 4 anniversary, whether it be in online forums or in printed newspapers, amounts to heavy-handed censorship that would not be tolerated in an open society.”
The IFJ urges China to demonstrate that its National Human Rights Action Plan of China 2009-2010 is a legitimate promise to improve the right to freedom of expression and information for all people in China.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide