Albanian-Canadian history professor and journalist Olsi Jazexhi is being harassed by the Chinese authorities since the publication of an opinion piece in December in Turkish news outlet Sabah Post. In this article which followed a trip to Xinjiang sponsored by Beijing, Jazexhi urged the international Islamic community to support Uyghurs imprisoned in China’s so-called “re-education camps”.
On the day following the publication, a Xinjiang official interviewed by Beijing’s mouthpiece Global Times accused Olsi of “going against basic professional ethics” as a reporter. The week after, China’s ambassador to Turkey also attacked the journalist in another opinion piece in Sabah Post. Additionally, Jazexhi was suddenly denied work by the University of Durres where he had taught for four years, a move that he claims to be the result of the Chinese influence in the university.
“The fact that the Chinese authorities funded Olsi’s trip to Xinjiang does in no way entitle them to dictate what he is allowed to report”, insists Cedric Alviani, the head of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) East Asia bureau, who commends “the courage of this citizen-journalist, who didn’t fail his responsibility to truthfully report what he saw despite the possible consequences.”
According to NGO Uyghur Human Rights Project, at least 58 journalists, editors and publishers from Xinjiang have been detained in China including website administrator Gulmira Imin and Václav Havel Prize and Sakharov Prize laureate Ilham Tohti, both sentenced to life in prison for “separatism”.
In the RSF World Press Freedom Index 2019, Albania ranks 82nd out of 180 countries and territories while China ranks 177th.