IFJ Applauds Sakharov Prize Winner Hu Jia and Calls for Immediate Release

 

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today applauded the news that Chinese citizen journalist

and blogger Hu Jia has been awarded the European Parliament’s 2008 Sakharov

Prize for Freedom of Thought, and called on China to release him from prison

immediately.

 

The European Parliament reportedly described Hu Jia as “a

leading symbol of China’s

human rights problems… He represents all the other Chinese and Tibetan citizens

who are repressed: lawyers, journalists, petitioners, human rights activists,

writers and cyber-dissidents.”

 

However, China’s

Foreign Ministry spokesman condemned the European Parliament’s choice and was

quoted in the Guardian as saying “to issue an award to such a criminal is

interference in China’s

judicial sovereignty and totally against the initial purpose of this prize”.

 

Hu was sentenced on April 3, 2008 to three and a half years’

jail and one year’s denial of political rights on charges of “inciting

subversion of state power” for articles and interviews critical of China's

Government’s record on human rights. Hu is a longtime activist on behalf of

HIV/AIDS sufferers in China

and has been a persistent critic of Government policies including those on public

health.

 

Hu is one of tens of journalists and bloggers detained in China

for their work. The crime of “inciting subversion of state power” is sufficiently

broad to make any real exercise of freedom of speech subject to state

punishment. The charge is especially dangerous for journalists and writers, who

most visibly exercise the right to freedom of speech.

 

Hu’s wife, blogger Zeng Jinyan, has told the IFJ that she has

been prevented from visiting or communicating regularly with him in prison. In

September the IFJ wrote to prison authorities to protest over reports that Hu

Jia was punished by prison officers after complaining about inhumane treatment of

inmates.

 

Hu suffers from chronic illness and grave concerns are held

for his health in prison.

 

“In congratulating Hu on

receiving the Sakharov Prize, we also congratulate the European Parliament for

sending a clear signal that China’s

journalists and bloggers are at the forefront of the struggle for media freedom,”

said the IFJ.

 

“China must stop jailing journalists

and activists if the world is to take its stated commitment to a free media

seriously.”

 

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents over 600,000 journalists in

120 countries worldwide