IFJ Condemns Sentence of Sichuan Writer After Failed Appeal

 

The

International Federation of

Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the Chengdu

Intermediate Court in China after it upheld a sentence of

five years’ imprisonment for writer Tan Zuoren

 

Tan

had appealed the sentence, handed down in February, on charges of inciting

subversion of state power after he had written articles about the Tiananmen

Square Massacre and the 2008 Sichuan

earthquake, and also accepted  interviews

with foreign media.

 

The

conviction includes a three-year suspension of Tan’s political rights.

 

“I’m

not surprised with the outcome,” Wang Qinghua, Tan’s wife, said.

 

Wang

was allowed to enter the court to witness the appeal, but her two daughters

were denied entry. Wang was denied entry in the February hearing.

 

Tan

was indicted on July 17 last year, accused of causing damage to the image of

China’s Government in articles he wrote about the 1989 Tiananmen Square

democratic movement and massacre, which were uploaded onto the United

States-based Torch of Liberty website on May 27, 2007.

 

At

his appeal, several Hong Kong and foreign

journalists were prevented from taking photographs outside the court building.

 

“The

police said reporters can write but not take photos,” a Hong

Kong journalist said.

 

One

of Tan’s daughters was detained for an hour by the police after she took images

outside the court.

 

No

media outlets in China

have reported Tan’s case. Nor have they reported further details of the Sichuan earthquake after

the Central Propaganda Department issued orders from February 2009 to block

independent news reports on the issue.

 

According

to Radio Television Hong Kong, a volunteer who assisted Tan in his

investigations of the earthquake was placed under house arrest yesterday by the Chengdu security bureau.

 

At

the previous sentencing hearing, Hong Kong and

other foreign journalists were subject to disruption and harassment. At the

time, the IFJ raised concerns in a letter to Vice-President Xi Jinping, Premier

Wen Jiabao and the Minister of Public Security, the Governor of Sichuan

Province, and the director of the Hong Kong

and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council.

 

“China’s

Constitution enshrines freedom of expression and the principle of a fair trial,

yet this case is another glaring example that shows these words are a nothing

but a façade,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White

said. 

 

“It

is deeply frustrating that the authorities are continuing to attempt to block

media personnel from exercising their professional duties despite numerous

assurances from President Hu Jintao that press freedom would be respected in China,”

he said.  

 

The

IFJ urges China’s

authorities to honour their repeated promises to uphold press freedom and demands

the immediate release of Tan Zuoren.

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide