Blocks on Journalists Entering Tibet Violate China’s Promise of Freedom

The International Federation of

Journalists (IFJ) calls on Beijing to honour its

promise to allow foreign media more freedom to report in China, after authorities refused applications by

journalists to travel to Tibet

to report on this week’s 50th anniversary of a failed uprising against China.

 

A Belgium

journalist, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the IFJ that officers at the

Foreign Ministry in Beijing and Tibet rejected his application in early March

for a permit to travel from Beijing to Tibet. The

officers reportedly said they were “too busy” before rejecting the application,

the journalist said.

 

Two journalists from Germany reported that they were also denied

boarding cards to enter Tibet

on March 10 as they sought to travel from Chengdu,

Sichuan Province. 

 

Further, an Associated Press (AP)

journalist was asked by authorities to leave Kangding, Ganzi, on March 9. AP

reported that local officials said they had received an emergency notice from

the provincial government which ordered foreigners, including media personnel,

out of the mixed Chinese-Tibetan town. Kangding has been an “open area” where

journalists have previously not required permits to enter.

 

The efforts to block foreign media come

as authorities in China are

on alert for possible unrest around the anniversary of the 1959 failed uprising

in Tibet

against Chinese rule.

 

The latest restrictions are a breach

of China’s

promise in October 2008 to allow foreign media more freedom to travel and

report on events in the country, in keeping with rules in place in the period

before and during the August Olympic Games.

 

On October 17, 2008, Foreign

Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao announced, “China adopts a basic policy of

opening up to the outside world, [and] protects the lawful rights and interests

of the permanent offices of foreign media organisations and foreign journalists

in accordance with the law.”

 

“In these latest incidents, journalists

followed the requirements for foreign media and applied for permits to travel

and conduct their work. No reasonable explanation has been offered for the

rejection of their permit applications,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.

 

“The IFJ is dismayed that authorities

in China

are not abiding by their duty and are again breaching the Government’s 2008

commitment to allow more freedom for foreign media personnel.”

 

The IFJ calls on China’s Central

Government to show good faith and approve the permits requested by foreign

journalists in order to do their work, in line with China’s claim to be “opening

up to the outside world”.

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents over 600,000 journalists in

120 countries worldwide