IFJ Urges Immediate Release Of Illegally Detained Writer In China

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has grave concerns about China’s unlawful detention of a

journalist who exposed alleged government wrongdoing around the construction of

a dam more than 50 years ago.

 

Xie Chaoping, 55, formerly with the Procuratorial Daily, a newspaper under

direct control of the Procurator of the People’s Republic of China, was detained on August 19 by security

officers of Weinan, Shaanxi, accused of illegal publication of a

book for commercial sale. His detention has only recently come to public

attention.

 

In the book, The Great Migration, Xie spent three years interviewing victims of

Sanmenxia Dam, chronicling the farmers’ trust of the then Weinan government,

which persuaded them to leave their homelands to allow the Central Government

to build the dam in the 1950s. The book alleges the local government cheated

the farmers, depriving them of land and compensation allocated to them by the

Central Government.

 

An IFJ source said Xie wrote an

in-depth article about the dam in 2006 when he was working at Procuratorial

Daily, but the newspaper censored the story. Xie left the paper in protest

and to further his investigation.

 

After he finished the book, Xie

contacted three publishers but none would go to print, with two citing pressure

from the relevant department of the Weinan government, while another requesting

the deletion of all names of alleged wrongdoers from the book, which Xie

refused.

 

In May 2010, Sparkle, a Beijing-based cultural magazine, agreed to publish the

book, on the condition that Xie bear the cost. Xie provided CYN 50,000 (about

USD 6,500) to the publisher and signed a memorandum promising that the book was

not intended for commercial sale.

 

On June 26, copies of the book were confiscated

by the Weinan government’s cultural department. The Weinan security bureau then

searched the houses of interviewees named in the book, and removed at least 8000

copies from an interviewee’s home in the early hours of June 27, reasoning that

the book leaked a state secret.

 

Four Weinan security officers and three

Beijing security officers took Xie away from his apartment in Beijing on August

19 with the explanation he might have been involved in an illegal commercial

activity.

 

Xie’s lawyer, Zhou Ze, said Weinan security

officers abused their power by detaining Xie without reason and not following proper

criminal procedures. Xie’s family has been forbidden to visit him. Zhou has

visited Xie in his cell in an unknown location, and says their discussion was recorded.

 

Zhou said Xie used his own money to

print the books, which were not intended for sale.

 

The magazine has been suspended and the

publisher removed from his position. The publisher has admitted negligence in

not following the correct procedure, but it is unclear what the correct

procedure is.

 

“The IFJ reminds all levels of government

in China

of comments made by Premier Wen Jiabao in a public speech on August 27, where

he stressed the valuable role of the media in reporting illegal activities and drawing

attention to improper behaviour by public officials,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.

 

The IFJ urges China’s authorities to direct the Weinan

security bureau to release Xie immediately. It calls on the Cultural Department

of China,

General Administration of Press and Publication and Security of Bureau of China

to investigate the case promptly and transparently. 

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125 countries

 

Find the

IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific