Xi Jinping, Vice President of China
Wen Jiabao, Premier of China
Meng Jianzhu, Minister of Public Security
Sir Donald Tsang Yam-Kuen, Chief Executive of Hong Kong
Peng Qinghua, Director of Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council
September 7, 2009
Re: Police Abuses in Xinjiang and Sichuan Provinces
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is alarmed to receive reports that Chinese authorities used force and violence to prevent journalists and media workers reporting on matters of major public interest in Xinjiang and Sichuan provinces.
The IFJ is informed that Xinjiang paramilitary police assaulted three Hong Kong journalists and harassed several others who were reporting on a public protest in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, on September 5.
According to local sources, police handcuffed and detained journalist Lam Tsz-ho and cameraman Lau Wing-chuan, of Television Broadcast (TVB), as well as Now Television cameraman Lam Chun-wai. They were reportedly held for more than three hours after covering the police use of tear gas in the protest. Police allegedly pointed a gun at Lam Tsz-ho to compel him to adhere to their orders. The three media workers reported injuries to their shoulders, necks and heads.
In a separate incident, five Hong Kong journalists were reportedly detained at another public protest on September 6. They were harassed and escorted to their hotel by police, and thus prevented from doing their jobs in reporting on a matter of public interest.
In another incident in Sichuan Province on August 12, police prevented Now Television journalist Wong Ka-yu and her cameraman from reporting on the trial of poet Tan Zuoren. The journalists were accused of possessing illegal substances and held in their hotel room until the trial was finished. After searching the hotel room, police found no illegal substances and the journalists were released. The IFJ is concerned that the police were explicitly seeking to prevent the journalists from attending the trial hearing.
The IFJ respectfully reminds China’s central and provincial authorities that this aggressive escalating police interference against the media not only restricts’ journalists from conducting their profession but is a violation of China’s stated commitment to improving freedoms under its National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2009-2010), published by the Central Government on 13 April 2009 .
Section 5 of the Action Plan states that China’s Government will make all efforts to provide all information pertaining to matters of public interest and government affairs, including the management of emergencies, disasters and public riots.
Police efforts to prevent journalists and media workers doing their jobs in Xinjiang and Sichuan provinces contravenes the principles of the Action Plan and underscores the failure of China’s authorities and governments at various levels to meet internationally held standards of information access, press freedom and freedom of expression, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The IFJ respectfully reminds Vice-President Xi Jinping and Premier Wen Jiaobao that the manner in which Xinjiang and Sichuan police treated the above journalists and media workers is a serious violation of the principles of press freedom and freedom of movement as enshrined in China’s Constitution, as well as the spirit National Human Rights Action Plan.
The IFJ calls on Premier Wen to urge the Minister of China’s Security Bureau and the Xinjiang Governor to conduct an investigation into these incidents and publicly report the results as a means to reaffirm China’s commitment to improving freedom of the media, freedom of expression and access to information in China.
International Federation of Journalists