October 18, 2010
President Hu Jintao
Premier Wen Jiabao
Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang
Minister of Public Security Meng
of Justice Wu Aiying
Director of Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office
Affairs Office Wang Yi
Restrictions on Journalists reporting on Liu and Chen cases
Dear Sirs, Madam,
Federation of Journalists (IFJ) writes to you to express our deep concerns
about the serious restrictions placed on journalists and media workers operating
whose activities are bound by the regulations for Foreign Correspondents.
Since October 8, the IFJ has received
a number of complaints from journalists covering news of Nobel Peace Prize
awardee, Liu Xiaobo. The complaints detail a series of acts of interference
from Chinese authorities, including: preventing journalists from interviewing
with Liu Xia, Liu’s wife; blocking journalists from interviewing all
representatives of various consulates in China; and forcing journalists to leave the
area near the Jinzhou
prison where Liu is held.
The IFJ has knowledge that Liu Xia was
willing to be interviewed, but was placed under a form of house arrest by plain
clothes police officers who denied her freedom to leave her home or have anyone visit
her. The IFJ also understands that her cell phone was illegally shut down.
This is the latest in a string of
incidents where individuals are prevented from making contact with the outside
world, either locally in China
or further afield. Chen Guangcheng, a blind activist defending women rights who
was charged with "damaging property and organising a mob to disturb
traffic” served his full sentence of four years and three months and was released on September
9, 2010. The IFJ is aware that since his release, Chen and his wife have been
denied contact with the outside world against their wishes. A number of
non-mainland journalists have been prevented by local authorities from
contacting Chen despite repeated attempts to do so. The couples’ telephones
were shut down and they are now under house arrest.
According to Article 17 of Regulations of the PRC Concerning Reporting
Activities of Permanent Offices of Foreign Media Organizations and Foreign
Journalists, Article 6 of Regulations
for Hong Kong and Macau Journalists and Article 7 of Regulations for Taiwan Journalists, it clearly states that when
seeking to interview individuals in China, journalists and media workers are
required only to obtain the prior consent of the interviewee.
The IFJ respectfully asserts that the
refusal by authorities to allow media to report undermines the spirit and
letter of the regulations. It is a violation of these rules to prevent people from
being interviewed by the press after the individuals concerned have consented
to be interviewed.
Furthermore, we also understand that
all local media organisations were ordered by Foreign
and Central Propaganda departments not to report the news relevant to the Liu
Premier Wen Jiabao accepted an interview from CNN on October 3, but the
departments ordered that this was not to be reported until more than a week
later, on October 11. These orders constitute a breach of Article 35 of the
Chinese Constitution which enshrines freedom of the press.
The IFJ welcomes Premier Wen Jiabao’s
repeated endorsements of the media’s key role in overseeing the activities of
public administration, particularly in his public speech in the Third Session
of the 11th National
People’s Congress in Beijing
on March 5, 2010.
“The transformation of government
functions is incomplete, there is too much government interference in the
micro-economy, and public administration and services are relatively weak,” Wen
said in the speech. “Let the news media fully play their oversight role.”
However, the IFJ remains concerned
that there is a significant gap between these words and the operations of China’s
authorities on a day to day basis. The open letter penned by a number of
ex-officials including Li Rui, the former secretary of
Mao Zedong and Zhong Peizhang, former news bureau chief of the Central
Propaganda Department on October 1 calls for media censorship to be abolished on
the basis that it is unconstitutional. The IFJ Asia-Pacific
respectfully offers its expertise and advice to assist China’s authorities in any way to ensure that
the sentiments from Premier Wen are given greatest effect in China and its autonomous regions.
We sincerely urge President Hu
Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi and Minister
of Public Security Meng Jianzh cease media censorship, investigate government
interference in media rights infringements, and do their utmost to ensure that
any interference that breaches the regulations of China is abandoned.
Furthermore, we urge President Hu
Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi, Minister
of Public Security, Minister of Justice, Director of Hong Kong and Macao
Affairs, and Director of Taiwan Affairs to investigate those who breached regulations
by illegally detaining civilians Liu Xia and Chen Guangcheng and let them to
resume their constitutional rights of freedom of movement and freedom of expression.
Federation of Journalists
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125 countries
IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific