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World's press calls for release of jailed Chinese journalists

The Board of the World Association of Newspapers has called for the release of all journalists jailed in China and condemned "the ongoing repression of all forms of freedom of expression in China."

"More than 30 journalists remain behind bars in China. The vast majority of them have faced long periods of detention before even being charged. Most trials result in lengthy prison sentences, often under extremely harsh conditions," said the WAN Board in a resolution issued during the World Newspaper Congress and World Editors Forum in Moscow, Russia.

The resolution said:

"The Board of the World Association of Newspapers, meeting at the 59th World Newspaper Congress in Moscow, Russia, 4 to 7 June 2006, deplores the ongoing repression of all forms of freedom of expression in China and calls for the immediate release of all imprisoned journalists in the country."

"More than 30 journalists remain behind bars in China. The vast majority of them have faced long periods of detention before even being charged. Most trials result in lengthy prison sentences, often under extremely harsh conditions. "

"Two of the world’s longest-held journalists are imprisoned in China. Chen Renji and Lin Youping were arrested in 1983 for distributing pamphlets on democracy. More than 23 years later both remain incarcerated. They are both serving life sentences; in the case of Lin Youbing, this came after a reprieve from a death sentence. A third colleague, Chen Biling, who was arrested along with the journalists, was sentenced to death and executed.

"Recent cases include:
- the December 2005 arrest of Internet writer Yang Tongyan on suspicion of "inciting subversion of state authority."
- the January 2006 conviction of Zhu Wanxiang and Wu Zhengyou, two journalists who had reported on rural unrest in the southeast province of Zhejiang. The two journalists were convicted to respectively ten and six years in prison for illegal publishing, fraud, and extortion when they were covering one of the many land disputes currently taking place in China.
- the February 2006 conviction of Li Changqing, a journalist with the Fuscous daily, who received a three-year prison sentence for "spreading false and alarmist information". Li had exposed an outbreak of dengue fever, a frequent cause of death among children, before the authorities officially announced it.
- the February 2006 accusation of Li Yuanlong, a reporter with the daily Bijie Ribao, who was charged with "inciting subversion of state authority" for articles he posted online that criticised the authorities. The journalist has been detained since September 2005.

"The detention of these and other journalists constitutes a clear violation of their right to freedom of expression, which is guaranteed by numerous international conventions, including Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Furthermore, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights considers that "detention, as punishment for the peaceful expression of an opinion, is one of the most reprehensible ways to enjoin silence and, as a consequence, a grave violation of human rights".

"The Board of WAN calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all imprisoned journalists in China and for the government to restore all civil and political liberties, including freedom of the press and access to information."

Date posted: June 6, 2006 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 75