Journalist Forced to Resign, Colleagues Targeted in China

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply

concerned to learn that China’s

Central Propaganda Department interfered in a newsroom by forcing an outspoken journalist

and commentator to resign and the removal of three other journalists from their

roles.

 

Journalist Zhang Ping (a pen name), 40, was forced to leave Southern Metropolis Newspaper by its

editor-in-chief on January 27 after the vice director of the Central Propaganda

Department visited the office the week before.

 

Zhang’s columns have been suspended from Southern Metropolis Newspaper and Southern Weekly since July 2010 without

reason. At a meeting on January 27 newspaper management demanded that Zhang stop

writing critical columns, but Zhang refused. Management responded by refusing

to renew his contract.

 

The IFJ also learned that another three journalists working

on the “Forum” section, including the section’s head, were forced move to other

areas of the newspaper.

 

“This act not only is a glaring example of a breach of

journalists’ rights, but it also shows the direct pressure that China’s

authorities will place on individuals in an attempt to silence any form of

criticism,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White

said.

 

“The IFJ urges Premier Wen Jiabao to fully investigate the

case and restore the journalists to their former positions at Southern Metropolis Newspaper.”

 

The IFJ remains concerned that the All-China Journalists

Association did not move to protect the journalists in the case.

 

Since 2001, Zhang has been demoted on two occasions: first

after reporting on social issues in 2001; and, second when he penned an article

critical of patriotism in the wake of unrest in Tibet in 2008, after which he was

moved to a research position at the newspaper.

 

“These changes happened after senior members of the Central

Propaganda Department, General Administrative of Press and Publication and the All-China

Journalists Association visited the newsroom a week ago - it is obvious that

the management could not stand the pressure,” said one journalist from Southern Metropolis, who did not wish to

be named.

 

“We have been grabbed tightly by the Central Propaganda

Department and other departments since it was announced that the Nobel Peace

Laureate last year was Liu Xiaobo.”

 

The Southern Media Group warned all staff members not to

talk about Liu Xiaobo or the Nobel Peace Prize, even in private, ahead of the

award presentation ceremony in December 2010.

 

 

For further information

contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612

9333 0919

 

The IFJ represents 600,000

journalists in 125 countries

 

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