The Committee to Protect Journalists is writing to you in advance of Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to the United States in January to urge you to raise press freedom issues during your talks. We ask that you make clear the depth of U.S. concern that China is the world's leading jailer of journalists.
According to international media reports, Niyaz was punished because of an August 2, 2009, interview with Yazhou Zhoukan (Asia Weekly), a Chinese-language magazine based in Hong Kong. In the interview, Niyaz said authorities had not taken steps to prevent violence in the July 2009 ethnic violence that broke out in China’s far-western Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. At the time, media reports said about 200 people were killed in the violence.
Dear President Obama:
We are heartened by news reports that you plan to talk to Chinese leaders about human rights and related issues when you visit the country next week. On World Press Freedom Day in May, you specifically raised the cases of two of China’s jailed journalists—Shi Tao, imprisoned for allegedly “leaking state secrets,” and Hu Jia, behind bars for alleged “incitement to subvert state power.” Both men remain jailed, and we ask that you now press for their immediate release.
China remains one of the world’s largest jailers of journalists, with at least 26 currently behind bars for doing their jobs, according to CPJ research. Most of these journalists worked online, publishing independent news and opinion on local or overseas Web sites, often working freelance, without the support of a mainstream media organization. Lawyers representing China’s jailed journalists complain of irregularities in the prosecution of their clients, including prolonged detentions without charge. Over half of the cases involve journalists who were jailed on vague anti-state charges such as revealing state secrets or the intent to subvert state power.
Shi and Hu are emblematic of the plight of a broad spectrum of jailed journalists in China:
New York, September 30, 2009—National Day celebrations on Thursday will be marred by extensive media restrictions in China, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The public holiday marks the founding of the People’s Republic of China by the Chinese Communist Party in 1949
October 1 is the latest in a series of anniversaries in China that have triggered greater censorship as the government has sought to limit dissident opinions and promote a unblemished image of a unified China, according to CPJ research. Extensive government censorship also accompanied the 50th anniversary in March of a failed Tibetan uprising, and the 20th anniversary in June of the 1989 crackdown on student-led protests in Tiananmen Square.
Among the media restrictions being imposed for National Day:
Chinese Internet users have been reporting higher than ever content-monitoring, Web site closures, and blocking of social networking sites, including forums and micro-blogging platforms, for weeks in the run-up to the celebration.