Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned by reports that police and
security agents intervened when journalists attempted to cover protests dubbed the
“jasmine revolution” in China
on February 20.
Many non-mainland journalists were
blocked or harassed when covering the protests in Beijing,
Shanghai and Guangzhou on the day.
A Hong Kong journalist told the IFJ he
was closely followed by a security officer who prevented him from making
contact with a number of dissidents in Guangzhou.
The journalist was harassed by the officer when investigating the case of a
human rights lawyer, who was injured in a beating by five plainclothes officers
after he tried to attend the Guangzhou
“The security officer blocked my path
to reach the injured lawyer and tried to snatch my cell phone when I recorded
his unpleasant behaviour,” said the journalist, who requested anonymity. The
officer also damaged the journalist’s phone in the incident.
The English service of state-controlled
Xinhua News Agency reported on the protest but the stories later disappeared
from its website. Xinhua’s Chinese service did not report the story at all.
“It’s only a show to foreign media -
I’m not surprised,” a mainland journalist told the IFJ.
“We haven’t received any orders from
the Central Propaganda Department regarding the ‘jasmine revolution’ so
far but no
relevant reports were published in Chinese media – it’s because anyone who
publishes will be fired right away.”
The IFJ’s monitoring of China’s
media in recent years has discovered that the authorities will often order
punitive action, such as sacking and demotions, against journalists who are
working to freely report the news.
“Protests in three separate
locations in China
are a matter of legitimate public interest, and we applaud those journalists
who bravely attempt to cover these events under intense scrutiny and at risk to
their livelihoods,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White
“A number of leaders of China’s
central authorities have publicly affirmed that public has the right to know
about what is happening in their communities.
“Without the right to speak, these
affirmations are hollow.”
China authorities further restricted
online messaging services and articles after the protests were announced on an
overseas website on February 19, the day before the protests took place. Relevant
information was totally blacked out and the website was attacked fiercely
The IFJ urges central authorities to
respect the rights of its citizens to enjoy their freedom of expression and
freedom of the press, underwritten by Article 35 of China’s Constitution.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125 countries
IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific
IFJ on Facebook here