Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply disturbed to learn that a former
journalist has been jailed in China
for more than two years for accepting media interviews about the tainted milk
scandal that rocked the country.
Zhao Lianhai, a former journalist whose son suffered from
kidney stones after consuming tainted milk manufactured by Sanlu, was convicted
by a court in Beijing
for “disturbing social order”. He was sentenced to two years and six months in
jail on November 10.
“Zhao is convicted because he accepted interviews by some non-mainland
media outlets on the street outside a restaurant and police station in 2009,” Zhao’s
lawyer, Li Fanping, said.
Zhao will appeal the court’s decision and has begun a hunger
strike until he regains his freedom.
Li said the sentence is harsh and unfair, particularly since
Zhao has been detained by authorities for 12 months.
Zhao was also accused of helping to organise parents of child
victims of tainted milk to ask for compensation. He was further accused of
assisting a rape victim to fight for justice.
“It is shocking that anyone should be jailed because they spoke
with the press. This case indicates China’s authorities are seeking to obstruct
the news-gathering process every step of the way,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.
“The decision to prosecute an individual undermines the
principles of Article 35 of China’s Constitution and the regulations which
govern the activities of non-mainland media working in China.”
According to Article 17 of the Regulations of the PRC Concerning Reporting Activities of Permanent
Offices of Foreign Media Organisations and Foreign Journalists, Article 6
of the Regulations for Hong Kong and
Macau Journalists and Article 7 of the Regulations
for Taiwan Journalists, journalists and media workers are required only to
obtain the prior consent of an interviewee when seeking to interview
individuals in China.
The IFJ is also distressed to learn that senior management at
media outlets in China
are censoring reports on the Zhao case, despite no restrictive order being issued
by the Central Propaganda Department.
In 2008, six children died and 300,000 suffered various illnesses,
with many developing kidney stones, after drinking melamine-tainted milk
manufactured by Sanlu.
For further information contact IFJ
Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125
Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific