Beaten to death by state security: RSF shocked by gruesome murder of independent journalist in China

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is horrified by the murder of Chinese independent journalist Sun Lin, reportedly beaten to death by police officers at his home. This crime comes as a direct consequence of the regime’s decade-long crusade against press freedom.

On Friday 17 November 2023, Chinese state security police officers burst into the home of freelance journalist Sun Lin in the city of Nanjing and severely beat him up, news website Weiquanwang reported. Sun Lin was taken to the Jiangsu province Hospital and was pronounced dead three hours later. In the days preceding his murder, Sun had been re-posting videos on social media showing anti Xi-Jinping protests on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco.

On 20 Monday, Sun’s relatives had still not been allowed to see his corpse, but doctors asserted that his clothes were completely torn in a mess when he was admitted to the hospital. The local National Security Bureau also allegedly threatened family and friends not to speak about his death nor to conduct public mourning activities.

“This gruesome murder is a direct consequence of the Chinese regime’s paranoia, which leads its leaders to see an enemy of the state in every independent media or journalist, and therefore exposes them to systematic retribution. ​​We urge the international community to build up pressure on the regime for it to end its relentless attacks against press freedom and the right to information.

Cédric Alviani
RSF Asia-Pacific Bureau Director

Also known under the pen name Jie Mu, journalist Sun Lin has contributed to several media outlets over the past twenty-five years, including US-based Mandarin-language news website Boxun. His journalistic work has already landed him in legal trouble: in 2008, he served four years in prison after he reported on forced evictions and Tiananmen Square petitioners. In 2016, he was arrested again while taking photos outside the trial of a human-rights activist and later sentenced to four years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power”

A large-scale crusade against journalism

In recent years, several journalists and press freedom defenders have been killed for standing against the regime’s propaganda. In 2017, Nobel Peace Prize and RSF Press Freedom Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo and political commentator Yang Tongyan both died in 2017 from cancers that were left untreated in detention. In June 2018, Chinese journalist Dai Shizong was killed in suspicious circumstances in Hunan province. In 2021, Kunchok Jinpa, a leading source of information about the autonomous Chinese region of Tibet for journalists, died in detention as a result of mistreatment. 

Since Chinese leader Xi Jinping took power in 2012, he has been conducting a large-scale crusade against journalism, as revealed in RSF’s report The Great Leap Backwards of Journalism in China published in December 2021, which details Beijing’s efforts to control information and media within and outside its borders.

China ranks 179th out of 180 in the 2023 RSF World Press Freedom Index and is the world's largest captor of journalists and press freedom defenders with at least 123 detained.

172/ 180
Score : 23.36
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