Outspoken Chinese Journalist Disappears

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned about the apparent disappearance of an outspoken freelance Chinese journalist and two of her family members, who have not been seen since April 24.

Analysts suspect that Gao Yu, 70, has been detained in the lead-up to the sensitive 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre on June 4, due to her recently disclosures of the intensifying conflict among China’s top leaders.

Gao sent her last email on April 23, and failed to attend a private gathering on April 26 which was held to commemorate the “April 26 Editorial” in the Communist Party’s People’s Daily in 1989. The editorial called the student-led protests in Tiananmen Square an “anti-party and anti-socialist upheaval” and is regarded as having paved the way politically for the military crackdown in which hundreds, possibly thousands, of people died.

Gao is currently working for Deutsche Welle, Radio Free Asia and Hong Kong magazine Mirror Monthly. She was jailed for 15 months after the Tiananmen Square Massacre in June 1989, and for six years in November 1994 for “publishing state secrets”.

In 1999, Gao became the first journalist to receive the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. In 2000 she was named one of the International Press Institute's 50 World Press Freedom Heroes of the twentieth century.

The IFJ said: “It is outrageous and disappointing that the local Police Bureau and Beijing Government remain silent when three people have disappeared. President Xi Jinping stressed, during the first meeting of National Security Commission on April 15 that China must value homeland security and the safety of its people. It appears President Xi Jinping was merely paying lip service.”

"Gao’s disappearance echoes a common phenomenon, where journalists and activists are suddenly disappeared during sensitive periods or when controversial issues are raised.”

With World Press Freedom Day about to be celebrated on Saturday May 3, the IFJ urges President Xi to demand that China’s police investigate Gao’s case, disclose the report and punish all wrongdoers, including any government officials and agencies if they are implicated.

  For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950 

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