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
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
“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
“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
The IFJ represents 600,000
journalists in 125 countries
the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific
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