The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns attempts by officials in China to obstruct contact between journalists and mourners ahead of the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4.
Jiang Qisheng, vice-chairman of Independent PEN, told the IFJ he had been repeatedly obstructed or prevented from making contact with journalists or people connected to victims of the massacre.
On May 18, a security officer reportedly instructed a café owner in Beijing to refuse service to Jiang and a Hong Kong journalist to prevent an interview from taking place. Despite changing locations, the interview was watched by security personnel.
The incident occurred three days after Jiang reported his house in Beijing had been ransacked and security personnel had detained and interrogated him for six hours, following his writing of an article entitled “Report of June 4 Victims” on May 15, intended for online publication.
On May 18, 1999, Jiang was arrested and subsequently sentenced to four years’ jail for subverting state power, after he wrote and distributed articles commemorating the victims of 1989. He completed his prison sentence in November 2003.
“They are absolutely violating my freedom. I have rights to move and rights to talk with anyone without any kind of harassment,” Jiang told the IFJ.
Meanwhile, well-known Beijing dissident Zhang Zuhua and online writer Zan Aizong reported receiving warnings from China’s security bureau in April to desist from writing about the June 4 anniversary.
In addition, Zhang Xianling, a member of Tiananmen Mothers, a group of democracy activists whose children were killed in 1989, said she also had been warned two days before a May 17 memorial ceremony in Beijing not to invite media to participate in or report on the ceremony.
“I don’t think they are correct by not allowing us to talk with press since our assembly is legal,” Zhang said.
“The founder of Tiananmen Mothers, Ding Zilin, and her husband have not shown up to the memorial event since they were ordered not to participate and were followed by plain-clothes officers all day long,” Zhang said.
“Obstructions of this kind continue to hinder press freedom in China and also deny families their right to assemble and to grieve the tragedy of one of China’s significant historical events,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.
The IFJ urges China’s central government to adhere to its repeatedly stated commitment to permitting greater freedom of the press and of association .