IFJ Urges Immediate Release of Uyghur Online Writer

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) urges the Government

of China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to immediately release Iham Tohti,

founder of Uyghur Online Web, and refrain from detaining journalists reporting

on the conflict between the Uyghur and Han ethnic minorities in China’s north-west.

 

Tohti reportedly told friends he had received a “formal

notice” from the Xinjiang authorities at midnight on July 7 referring to articles

posted that day on Uyghur Online Web criticising the Chairman of the Xinjiang

Uyghur Autonomous Regional People’s Government.

 

The IFJ understands Tohti was subsequently arrested but is

unable to verify the date or location of the arrest.

 

Uyghur Online Web was reportedly shut down without

explanation from authorities immediately after uploading information about

riots on July 5 between Uyghur and Han groups and police in Urumqi, the capital of the autonomous region.

 

According to a report in the July 7 edition of the Hong

Kong-based Ming Pao newspaper, a

reporter who had called Tohti for comment about the riot said Tohti refused to

talk because official personnel were in his home.

 

Since the riots erupted on July 5, all communication channels

including internet, telephone landlines and mobile phone access in the region

have been disconnected or interrupted.

 

The Xinjiang Government organised limited internet access

for media to use at their press centre after media personnel who had been sent

by the Central Government to Xinjiang on July 6 complained about the

communication black-out.

 

A journalist told the IFJ that China’s

Central Propaganda Department issued two orders to all media outlets in China

after the riots began. The orders said that all media outlets in China could

only use information published by State-owned news agency Xinhua, otherwise

they would receive a serious penalty.

 

A news report on the government-owned CCTV station on July

11 said 184 people had died during the riots and about 200 people were

arrested.

 

“The IFJ is deeply worried by efforts of the Xinjiang

authorities to restrain media coverage and silence independent reporters trying

to disseminate information about this conflict,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said. “Accurate information about the

extent of fatalities and injuries must be made available to the public,

particularly for those who have family and friends in the region. Journalists such

as Tohti should not face detention for fulfilling their duty to provide this

information.” 

 

The IFJ urges the authorities to release Tohti immediately

and allow a free press and free flow of all information out of Xinjiang Uyghur

Autonomous Region.

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents over 600,000 journalists in

120 countries worldwide