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China Letter-News and Human Rights

China human rights news with focus on the Uygur of Xinjiang, Tibetans and Tibet, Chinese mining workers, religion, corruption and censorship.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Chinese Journalists Jailed

Reporters sans frontires - China:

Freedom Of The Media in ChinaReporters without Frontiers claim that the recent arrests and jailing of journalist was a plot by the Chinese Government to deter others from overstepping the mark on criticising the regime.

"the plot aimed to keep Chinese journalists in a state of fear, it said. 'While the Communist Party boasts of having included protection of private property in the Constitution, press bosses and journalists are sentenced to heavy jail terms for having turned their daily into an independent and going concern,' said Reporters Without Borders. "

It would appear from the article that the Chinese Government has taken exception to the journalistic and editorial team of the weekly newspaper Nanfang Dushi Bao whose jailing, so supporters claim, was linked to their revelations on the Sars virus and the death of a young graphic artist who was beaten to death in a police station.

The official charges were "corruption" embezzlement" and "appropriating State Property" and related to them "receiving" money from the paper. The fact of the matter was not denied in court but defended as normal practice in the Chinese newspaper industry which Reporters Without Frontiers claim to have confirmed is the case.

Such cases are hard to ajudge from afar. Because one is a defender of Human Rights does not mean ergo that one is above putting one's hands in the till.

We must applaud bravery in journalism but also applaud the Chinese taking strong action to stamp out corruption in state run industries (which all newspapers are) and among state officials Such practices are rife in China officialdom and have a major impact on individual human rights as can be seen in the many cases of forced evictions prompted with a greased palm. Which catagory this falls into I hesitate to call.

In cases like this we can only look for patterns and hold back from drawing unfounded conclusions in isolation.

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