The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned that China’s Southern Metropolitan newspaper suspended an editor from work due to pressure by the Guangdong Provincial Propaganda Department.
The newspaper’s Forum Page editor, known as Zhu, was suspended on April 13 after approving the publication of an article with the headline, “Love of Country is not equal to Love of Government”.
According to local reports, the article was a hot topic among Chinese web-users just hours after it was posted online. Local media workers believe that the intense cyber activity generated by the article was likely to have drawn attention from cyber monitors and the country’s Propaganda Departments.
The article was removed from online, and Southern Metropolitan was forbidden by the Guangdong Provincial Propaganda Department to publish any similar articles.
Zhu’s suspension recalls an incident in March 2008 when another Southern Metropolitan journalist was stood down after publishing an article that discussed nationalism, just days after mass unrest in Tibet. He was dismissed following pressure from the Central Propaganda Department.
“The IFJ urges media managers to resist efforts by censors to intimidate and deter China’s journalists from pursuing their professional prerogative,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.
“In bowing to pressure to punish Zhu merely for doing his job as an editor, media managers as well as the propaganda authorities are directly contravening China’s constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of the media.”
The IFJ calls on Southern Metropolitan to reinstate Zhu immediately.