Update : Abusive arrests
Netizens arrested in connection with 4 June anniversary
Reporters Without Borders condemns the arrests of netizens for trying to commemorate the anniversary of the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on 4 June 1989.
“The government must put an immediate and permanent end to the censorship, blocking of access to information and harassment that occurs every year in the run-up to the 4 June anniversary of the events in Tiananmen Square,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“We call for the immediate and unconditional release of the independent news providers who were arrested for referring to this sad anniversary, and for all charges against them to be dropped.”
Police officers prevented Agence France-Presse journalists from approaching a demonstration by the “Tiananmen Mothers” on 4 June and ordered their cameraman to stop filming.
Officials in the eastern province of Jiangsu arrested the netizen Gu Yinmin on 1 June and placed him in “criminal detention” for refusing to remove a photograph of the 1989 pro-democracy movement from his QQ account.
Netizens Qiu Hua and Yang Ting Jian are serving 15-day “administrative” detention orders in Guangzhou for trying to organize an Internet tribute to the victims of the 1989 crackdown.
Tiananmen Square massacre heads long list of taboo subjects
On today’s sombre anniversary of the bloody 1989 crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, Reporters Without Borders reiterates its appeal for the release of journalists, bloggers and campaigners for freedom of expression, in particular those imprisoned for having taken part in, or referred to, the pro-democracy movement. We also call for the Chinese media and Internet users to be allowed to report on all events, including those that scarred May and June 1989.
The press freedom organization calls for an end to wholesale censorship and the abolition of the information control system known popularly as the “Great Firewall”.
“China remains one of the most repressive countries in the world towards those who campaign for freedom of information and expression,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“Events commemorating the 4 June anniversary in many of the world’s capitals are a duty of remembrance and allow tribute to be paid to the victims of the repression, but they also provide an opportunity to publicize what is probably one of the Beijing government’s greatest taboos.
“The consequences of the lack of information as a result of the censorship and disinformation about the Tiananmen Square massacre imposed by the government for almost 25 years are still felt today. Thanks to the effectiveness of the blackout, the vast majority of young Chinese still know nothing about this episode.
“The Tiananmen Square massacre is far from an isolated incident from a bygone era. The censorship launched after the “Beijing Spring” has never been relaxed. The authorities regard the daily exercise of disinformation and censorship as an effective method for maintaining their control over the population as well as China’s international image, whatever the consequences for the Chinese people. Any news or information regarded as sensitive by the authorities may be censored.”
Censorship regulations are not confined to the media but also affect the university education system. A Chinese law professor, Zhang Xuezhong, recently disclosed on his website that there were seven subjects that the government had banned Chinese university teachers from discussing: universal values, citizens’ rights, civil society, judicial independence, freedom of the press, the privileged capitalist class, and past mistakes of the Chinese Communist Party.
To illustrate the censorship from which the Chinese media suffer on a daily basis, Reporters Without Borders has listed the most recent orders issued to journalists and Chinese Internet companies by the various offices responsible for controlling the flow of information and the media:
1. Media organizations must not stress violence on a college campus but should concentrate on the steps taken by party committees and the government to prevent similar incidents in the future – Central Propaganda Committee.
2. Coverage of the international Africa conference in Tokyo is forbidden – State Council Information Bureau.
3. Coverage of the arrival of U.S. military vessels in the Southern Ocean is forbidden.
4. All statements about clashes between police and groups of camphor traders in Dongguan and the tar leakage in Si Hui must follow the information issued by the relevant departments. They must not carry out interviews of their own volition – Guangdong.
5. Information on the public hearings on the rise in taxi fares in Beijing must not be circulated – Beijing Network Office.
6. The report on the Shenzhen coastal power station must be followed to the letter in order to avoid unnecessary tension – Shenzhen Publicity Department.
7. The micro-blogging account of Zhang Xue Zhong is to be blocked – State Council Information Office.
8. Media coverage of the student at the Agricultural University of Huanan found hanged is forbidden – Guangzhou Propaganda Ministry
9. It is forbidden to mention or comment on the Shenzhen costal power station and related matters, or the relocation of Guangzhou’s cemetery for those who resisted the Japanese.
10. It is forbidden to talk about Party Provincial Bureau deputy director Yu Laishan’s meal or his 170,000 yuan dinner – Guangdong Department of Propaganda.
11. Absolutely all posts about Xu Zhiyong must be suppressed, without exception – Central Department of Propaganda.
12. It is forbidden to publish any report or communiqué about the press conference or other activities organized by the Gu Chu military corps – Council of State’s Bureau of Information.
13. It is forbidden to comment on the attack on government officials by residents of the village of Dongxia, in Hui’an district ¬– Fujian Department of Propaganda.
14. “Internet clean-up” operations will continue until June. The level at which key subjects are handled will be raised by one level and the precision of website registering will be stepped up. These are priorities.
Reporters Without Borders will take part in the events that the Chinese pro-democracy movement is organizing in Paris to mark the anniversary. A demonstration in the city centre will be following by the screening of two films that have not previously been seen in France: Ying Liang’s “When Night Falls” and a documentary by the journalist Anne Loussouarn called “Chinese Anger.”
The exile writer Liao Yiwu, the Berlin International Literature Festival and a group of well-known international authors have issued a joint appeal for public readings today in support Li Bifeng, a writer who was given a 12-year jail sentence last November.
They would like people to read from works by Li Bifeng or works links to his fate, or the works of Liao Yiwu, which are censored in China.
China is on the Reporters Without Borders list of “Enemies of the Internet” and is ranked 173rd out of 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.
China is also mentioned in the 2013 special report on surveillance: “Enemies of the Internet” ¬– China.
Photo : BRUNO BARBIER / ONLY WORLD / ONLY FRANCE