Chinese pressure leads to arrests in Vietnam and Indonesia

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

His Excellency Zhang Junsai, Ambassador to Canada
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
515 St. Patrick Street
Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 5H3

April 12, 2011

Dear Ambassador,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

CJFE is concerned by recent reports that the Chinese government has been pressuring authorities in Vietnam and Indonesia to act against radio stations affiliated with the Falun Gong movement. It is worrying that press freedom in other countries is being infringed upon by a rising world power that has a strong international influence.

Two Vietnamese radio operators, Vu Duc Trung and Le Van Thanh, were arrested for broadcasting without a license from a farm near Hanoi. Criminal charges were later brought against them, which carry a penalty of up to five years’ imprisonment. Their lawyer argued in a letter to the Ministry of Public Security in Vietnam that their charges should not apply as Falun Gong is not banned in Vietnam.

Gatot Machali, the manager of Radio Era Baru based in the Riau Islands, Indonesia, was also arrested and is currently awaiting a court verdict regarding charges of broadcasting without a licence and disrupting neighbouring radio frequencies. It has been reported that the Chinese embassy in Indonesia has also applied pressure and is seeking the termination of Radio Era Baru broadcasting.

CJFE strongly urges the Chinese government to respect the rights of all people to freedom of expression and access to information, and to use its influence in ways that will encourage the advancement of these rights around the world.

Thank you for your attention, and I look forward to your reply.

Yours Sincerely,

Arnold Amber, CJFE President

Cc: Mr. David Mulroney, Ambassador to China;
The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs