Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has been notified of another incident in which provincial
authorities in China
have ignored the promises of the Central Government to allow local and foreign
journalists more freedom in their reporting.
Four Hong Kong journalists were
detained by government officials in Dujiangyan, Sichuan Province, on May 7 while they researched a story on
corruption related to the 2008 Sichuan
earthquake, local reports said.
The journalists, who were on assignment
for the Ming Pao newspaper and the Hong
Kong-based Hong Kong Cable Television station, told the IFJ they were prevented
from interviewing residents of Xiang’e village who allege their houses were
deliberately demolished by a developer after the quake.
The journalists were reportedly told
by a group of 10 government officials to stop the interviews, on the basis that
they did not have the appropriate permit from the Sichuan propaganda department. They were
then taken to a police station.
One journalist told the IFJ the
group was not allowed to contact the local propaganda department to obtain the
appropriate permit. They were forced to delete all footage taken and to sign a
letter of penitence before they were released.
Many of the interviewees were also
reportedly harassed by local police.
In February, two human rights
activists and writers, Huang Qi and Tan Zuoren, were sentenced to three years
and five years’ jail respectively, following their investigative work into the
collapse of school buildings during the quake and their demands for an official
investigation. Huang was accused of possessing state secrets while Tan was accused
of subversion of state power.
“Provincial permits are
administrative tools used by local authorities in China to prevent journalists from
doing their jobs properly,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan
“They also highlight the urgent need
for central authorities to ensure that their promises of an improved open media
are understood and acted on in provinces.”
In October 2008, Foreign Ministry
spokesman Liu Jianchao announced China would adopt a “basic policy
of opening up to the outside world, [and] protecting the lawful rights and
interests of foreign media” in accordance with promises made by the Central Government
in its bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games.