The International Federation of Journalists today accused the Chinese authorities of a “brutal vendetta” against independent journalism and media following the destruction of the offices of one of its leading critics.
Yesterday, the Hong Kong office of the English-language newspaper, The Epoch Times, was broken into by four unidentified men, who smashed a glass door at the entrance of the building and wreaked havoc in the offices, including entering the computer room in the print shop and wrecking office machines and computers.
“China’s authoritarian leaders are maintaining a systematic policy of intimidation and censorship directed against dissident voices and independent media, both inside and outside of the country," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “This latest vandalism is part of a brutal vendetta that cannot be tolerated”.
According to the Epoch Times’ spokesperson, Wu Queer, the print shop, located at Quanwan, had recently printed large amounts of the Nine Commentaries, a series of editorials published by the paper and which has so far inspired 7.8 million Chinese to renounce all ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Xueer believes that the Chinese authorities were trying to stop her paper’s ability to print the Nine Commentaries in Hong Kong.
In the last four weeks, Epoch Times staff members have been the target of a series of threats and harassment. On 8 February, IT Chief Yuan Li was attacked in his home in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, and severely beaten by a gang of Chinese men who stole only his work-related computers. This was the first time that a journalist working for the paper had been targeted and attacked outside of China.
On 9 February, the home of the Paris manager of the Epoch Times which has supported a New Year Gala organised by the independent satellite channel NTDTV was broken into and all ticket receipts for the gala were stolen, but nothing else was touched.
In addition, The Epoch Times in Malaysia has been blocked from publication due to the Chinese regime's interference and Epoch Times' offices in Sydney and the NTDTV offices in Toronto have received suspicious envelopes via mail that are suspected of containing toxic materials.
The IFJ affiliate in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Journalists Association, has joined the IFJ in calls for the international community to speak out against the “dirty war” campaign being waged against the Epoch Times.
“Since the end of 2004, Chinese Communist Party officials have hunted down the Epoch Times staff inside and outside mainland China, systematically confiscating newspapers, intimidating advertisers, and threatening the families of staff members,” said White. “This is a vicious witch-hunt aimed at crushing the voice of dissent.”
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The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 110 countries