China Bars All Reporting On Deadly Explosion In Xinjiang

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned about a blanket ban by China’s Central Propaganda Department on

reporting by any media, including the state-owned Xinhua News Agency, of an

explosion in western China

that killed seven people.

 

The ban was issued immediately after the explosion in Aksu City,

Xinjiang, Uyghur Autonomous Region, on August 19. Fourteen people were injured.

 

The order said media must not republish any reports by Xinhua

News Agency or Xinjiang local media outlets, or compile individual

reports.

 

Xinhua reported that the explosion was caused by a bomb, and

that a suspect was arrested at the scene. “The motive behind what appears to be

a bomb blast in China’s

western Xinjiang region is not yet clear,” the Xinhua report said. “But many

will suspect it is linked to the region’s ongoing ethnic tension.”

 

The IFJ urges China’s authorities to lift the reporting

ban immediately, as in times of crisis it is essential that the public is able

to access updated and credible information.

 

“Blanket bans and restricting people’s access to the news will

allow rumour and hearsay to proliferate,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.

 

“Distorted information risks inflaming already tense

situations, which is partly what happened around the time of riots in the Uyghur

Autonomous Region in 2009.”

 

China’s authorities are particularly

sensitive about Xinjiang, where the Central Government alleges a separatist

movement is on the rise. Almost 200 people were killed in July 2009 during

riots sparked by ethnic tension.

 

In the wake of the unrest, many restrictive orders were issued

by local authorities and the Central Propaganda Department. All internet and

communication devices were shut down by the local government until mid-May

2010.

 

The IFJ reminds China’s authorities that under Article

19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, freedom of expression includes

the right for people to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through

any media.

 

“This latest in a long line of restrictive orders is a clear

contravention of Article 35 of China’s Constitution, which enshrines the right

to freedom of expression,” White said.

 

“The IFJ urges President Hu Jintao, Central Propaganda

Department Director Liu Yunshan, and the Minister of General Administration of

Press and Publication, Liu Binjie, to revoke the latest order without delay.”  

 

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