The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) urges China’s provincial governments to ensure an open and safe environment for journalists working in Hubei Province, after a series of attacks were reported this week.
A journalist, who asked to remain anonymous, told the IFJ that he and other journalists were harassed by local officials, put under surveillance and eventually forced on May 28 to leave the village of Badong, where they were reporting on a murder case involving a local government official.
The murder sparked media interest when allegations of police and local government malpractice in the judicial process were made public.
On May 26, the provincial office of the Central Propaganda Department reportedly requested an order be issued to stop all journalists from reporting the case.
However, none of the journalists forced to leave Badong had seen or heard of the order, the journalist told the IFJ.
Meanwhile, two reporters named as Kong Pu of The Beijing News, and Wei Yi Magazine, of Southern Metropolis Daily, were reportedly beaten up by plain-clothes officers at Ye San Guan village, near Badong, on May 28.
The reporters were interviewing the grandmother of the murder suspect when four or five people claiming to be relatives entered the house, physically abused the journalists and confiscated their bags and equipment including Wei’s camera for several hours.
The interviewee denied knowing the assailants.
“Journalists worldwide have a responsibility in their watchdog role to call governments to account for corruption, malpractice and lack of transparency. China is no exception,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.
“Interference by provincial officials to prevent journalists from investigating a matter of public interest contradicts promises made by Chinese authorities to permit greater freedom of expression.”
The IFJ calls on China’s national authorities to ensure all provincial governments are made aware of and adhere to the Government’s stated commitment to promoting greater freedoms of expression, information and association on a national level.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide