The International Federation of Journalists
(IFJ) condemns the blocking of news reports of protests over a death in police
custody in Wukan Village,
Lufeng in China’s southern Guangdong Province.
On December 12 hundreds of police confronted
thousands of villagers demonstrating against the death of a local villager and political
interference in local elections. Although the story has been covered by the English-language
edition of an official Chinese Communist Party newspaper, Global Times,
all Chinese-language reporting has been censored.
The demonstrators called on senior government
officials to investigate the sudden death of villager Xue Jinbo, 42, on December
11. According to cable television news reports in Hong
Kong, it is suspected that Xue was tortured to death.
Xue’s daughter has said that upon examining Xue’s
body at the hospital, they found his body covered in bruises and one of his
thumbs broken. According to Global Times English-language edition, Xue's
family also reported that his nails were missing and several of his ribs were
Xue and the other four people were taken away
by local police on December 9, after they demonstrated against perceived
political interference in village elections in September. Two days later, Xue’s
family was informed that he had died of a heart attack.
In response, thousands of villagers
demonstrated and called on senior government officials to investigate Xue’s
death. They also complained about political interference in the election of
village representatives, after 500 hectares of village land were sold to
developers without any compensation being paid. Hundreds of policemen were sent
to Wukan to prevent anyone from leaving the village.
“It is very distressing that all Chinese-language
media outlets have been forbidden from reporting on these matters of great
public interest,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director
Jacqueline Park said.
“This decision by Chinese authorities clearly
shows an intention to block this information from the majority of Chinese
citizens, and undermines China’s
claims to support press freedom.”
The tactic of censoring Chinese-language
reports, while allowing English-language reporting, has been used a number of
times by Chinese authorities. In April 2011, Global Times English-language
service was allowed to report on the detention of dissident artist Ai Weiwei by
and the sentencing of 2010 Nobel Peace Laureate, Liu Xiaobo, to 11 years imprisonment
The IFJ urges the President of China Hu
Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao to challenge the Central Propaganda Department
and State Internet Information Office’s heavy handed censorship of local media
outlets and online news reporting, and allow the media greater freedom to report.
The IFJ also urges the international
community to focus attention on recent events in Wukan, and push China’s
Government to provide a full and transparent explanation of the events
surrounding Xue’s death and allegations of interference in local elections
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
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