Six Netizens Arrested and Sixteen Websites Shut Down in China


The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned by reports that six people are being detained by police in Beijing,

China and that sixteen Chinese websites have been closed down by authorities.


According to a report by the British

newspaper The Guardian on April 1, the

spokesperson of China’s State Internet Information Office said that rumours had

been, “fabricated by some lawless people and had been a bad influence on the

public.” However the spokesperson did not elaborate further on the nature of

the bad influence.


According to a report on 30th March by

the Xinhua News Agency (theofficial news agency of the People’s Republic

of China), sixteen websites were shut down by Chinese

authorities following their reports claiming military vehicles entered Beijing

in response to political conflict associated with the dismissal of former

Governor of Chongqing City, Bo Xilai.


Two of China’s most popular microblog service

companies, Sina and Tencent, suffered clampdowns for similar reasons. According

to reports from various overseas media, both companies were forced to disable

their comment functions for three days.


Xinhua also reported that six people were detained by Beijing police for

spreading rumours on the internet, with many others receiving official

reprimands for similar activities. Li Delin, a

Mainland journalist, is also believed to have been detained by police for the

same reason. Li has not been seen since March 23.


“Chinese laws that allow the police to punish

anyone for spreading rumours through the internet allow for easy abuse.” IFJ

Asia-Pacific office said.

“According to Principle 6 of the Johannesburg

Principles on National Security, Freedom of Expression and Access to

Information, Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, expression

may be punished as a threat to national security only if a government can

demonstrate that:


(a) the expression is intended to incite

imminent violence;

(b) it is likely to incite such violence; and

(c) there is a direct and immediate

connection between the expression and the likelihood or occurrence of such



There is no evidence that the six people

recently detained, or journalist Li Delin, were inciting violence in this

manner. As such, the IFJ questions the arbitrary nature of these detentions.


The IFJ urges the Central Government of China

to amend the relevant law to incorporate this international standard, and demand

the Beijing Police release those detained for exercising their freedom of



We also urge the State Internet Information

Office to re-open the sixteen websites forced to shut down, and provide a clear

explanation for the reasons of their closure.




further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950 


The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131



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