March 8, 2011
Ms Navanethem Pillay
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais des Nations
Via email: email@example.com
Re: China’s Abuse
of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Dear Ms Pillay,
We are writing to express our grave concerns regarding
the latest suppression of press freedom in China, which began on February 20, 2011.
We understand that China has a different understanding
about press freedom and its roles and responsibilities. However, the State
Council of the People’s Republic of China
extended the rights of all foreign, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan journalists reporting the news in China in
the lead up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and, after international pressure,
upheld these changes after the Games. The IFJ believes that China is
obliged to keep the promises made to journalists and media workers in order to
ensure robust independent reporting of events in the country.
According to regulation 17 of Regulations of the People’s
Republic of China Concerning
Reporting Activities of Permanent Offices of Foreign Media Organisations and
Foreign Journalists; regulation 6 of Regulations for Hong Kong and Macau and
regulation 7 for Taiwan
after the Olympic Games in 2008 and 2009 respectively, journalists are required
to obtain an interviewee’s consent when preparing reports.
The IFJ learned that serious violations of these
regulations began in February 2011 when journalists were harassed, assaulted
and detained by the authorities, in many cases by police officers, simply for
reporting the news. A number of foreign journalists were blocked from entering
a village in Shangdong when they attempted to interview human rights activist
Chen Guangcheng, who was jailed for campaigning against China’s one-child
policy and was released in September 2010 after completing his four and a half
year sentence only to be immediately placed under house arrest with his wife.
The journalists were pushed and had stones thrown at them by plainclothes
The IFJ is greatly concerned that journalists were
targeted when covering “jasmine revolution” protests in the country on February
20 and 27. Journalists from non-mainland media outlets including Bloomberg TV,
BBC, CNN, Deutsche Presse-Agentur, German-based broadcaster ARD, Voice of America,
Hong Kong-based broadcasters including ATV, TVB,
Cable TV, RTHK and Taiwan-based SanliTV were harassed, assaulted, detained and interrogated
by police of China.
In one case a Bloomberg TV reporter was pushed to the ground by police and then
assaulted by an unknown attacker. Police officers witnessing the attack failed
to intervene and assist the journalist. Journalists were also threatened by
police officers that working visas might not be extended if they continued to
report on the protests.
The regulations that apply to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan journalists working in China only
require that journalists work in accordance with the law. Under the
will protect journalists’ lawful rights and facilitate news coverage and reporting
activities that are carried out according to the law. However in recent weeks police
not only failed to protect journalists but also laid down a series of new rules
designed to specifically block journalists’ rights under the law. Police
demanded that journalists registered before reporting from particular public
areas such as Wangfujing, Beijing,
a proposed destination for further ‘jasmine’ protests.
Chinese writers Ran Yunfei and Ye Du were detained on
February 20 and are understood to have been charged by police with inciting
subversion of state power without explanation. The writers’ family members
strongly believe they were charged because police presumed they were involved
in the ‘jasmine’ protests. The two writers have not yet been released and there
are reports that other bloggers and writers are also being held in detention.
According to Article 19 of the UDHR, every person has the
right to freedom of expression and rights to access and distribute information.
Since February however, all mainland China
media has been ordered not to report the ‘jasmine’ protests while foreign media
experienced high levels of harassment and acts of intimidation from China’s
authorities as outlined above. The result is the great majority of citizens of
have been left in the dark about what has been happening in their communities.
The IFJ strongly believes that China, as a permanent member of
United Nations and a current member
of the Human Rights Council, must stand up as a progressive role model to other
nations by upholding universal covenants to which it subscribes. Essential to
this is the need for China
to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in order to
allow citizens’ fundamental right to freedom of expression.
We welcome the Human Rights Council’s recent expression
of deep concern regarding the uprising in Libya
and journalists who were harassed in Egypt
The IFJ respectfully requests that the Council adopt an equally strong position
on the recent developments in China,
as the strength and the intensity of the recent clampdown is a clear sign of
regressive moves by the country’s administration regarding freedom of the press
and freedom of expression.