Journalists charged ahead of Tiananmen Square anniversary

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

His Excellency Luo Zhaohui
Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Canada
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Canada
515 St. Patrick Street
Ottawa, ON K1N 5H3

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 deeply troubled by the recent government crackdown targeting Chinese media outlets in the run-up to the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4, 2014. A number of journalists have been arbitrarily detained and charged, while several media outlets were forcibly closed as part of a nationwide campaign by China's Central Propaganda Department to stop the reporting of "fake news." These accusations have yet to be substantiated with any evidence.

According to the country's State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, 216 newspapers stand accused of failing to comply with regulations, four publishing companies had their licenses revoked, and six media outlets were shuttered. Numerous media workers were charged under unfounded accusations of disseminating false information. Among them are Xiang Nanfu and Vivian Wu, two journalists who have worked with US-based media outlets and reported critically on the Chinese government. They were arrested on May 13 and May 9 respectively and charged with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” broadly defined charges often used to ensnare critics of the government. Five prominent dissident writers were also arrested on May 3rd and have been detained ever since on suspicion of “causing a disturbance.” These charges stem from their participation in a private gathering to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the massacre and a statement released following the event. This statement called on the Chinese government to investigate the carnage of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, where between several hundred and several thousand demonstrators were killed.

CJFE urges the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of China, the Central Propaganda Department and the Beijing Propaganda Department to provide concrete evidence to substantiate these penalties and charges. CJFE also calls upon the Chinese government to immediately release these journalists and all prisoners of conscience, and to cease in its attempts to censor speech about the Tiananmen Square massacre.

We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Arnold Amber, CJFE President

Cc: Mr. Guy Saint-Jacques, Ambassador of Canada to China
The Honourable John Baird, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs