2008 Beijing Games - Clandestine FM radio broadcast today in Beijing by Reporters Without Borders, hours before Olympic opening ceremony



    MONTREAL, Aug. 8 /CNW Telbec/ - Members of Reporters Without Borders
today broadcast "Radio Without Borders," China's only independent FM radio
station, in Beijing just hours before the start of the Olympic Games opening
ceremony. In a programme lasting 20 minutes, Reporters Without Borders
secretary-general Robert Ménard and Chinese human rights activists called on
the Chinese government to respect free speech.
    "The Chinese authorities refused to issue visas to ten of our members but
this has not stopped us from making ourselves heard in Beijing by means of a
clandestine radio broadcast using miniaturised FM transmitters and antennas,"
Ménard said. "Reporters Without Borders devised and carried out this protest
in a spirit of resistance against state control of the media."
    The press freedom organisation added: "This is the first non-state radio
station to have broadcast in China since the Communist Party took power in
1949. Only international Chinese-language radio stations broadcasting on the
short wave would be able to break this news and information monopoly, but they
are jammed by the authorities." The Radio Without Borders broadcast began at
08:08 local time on 08/08/08 on 104.4 FM, exactly 12 hours before the start of
the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games. The programme, in English,
French and Mandarin, was heard in on 104.4 FM in different districts of the
Chinese capital.
    In his introduction, Ménard described the broadcast as a "gesture of
defiance towards the Chinese authorities, who are still keeping dozens and
dozens of journalists and Internet users in prison." Addressing the
authorities, Ménard said: "Despite everything, there are people who are going
to be able to speak out about things you don't want the public to hear, in the
very heart of Beijing. Regardless of the measures you take, you will not get
rid of free speech."
    Ménard then urged the Chinese authorities to release prisoners of
conscience and stop jamming the frequencies used by international radio
stations broadcasting in Chinese. "You banned us from going to Beijing, you
expelled us from China. But despite all that, we are here, making our voice
heard peacefully, in a completely non-violent fashion. It is a way of saying
censorship just won't work."
    The broadcast included interviews with Chinese human rights activists who
have found refuge abroad. A former journalist talked about the censorship and
self-censorship that is imposed on her colleagues still in China. A human
rights activist described the crackdown on Chinese activists in the run-up to
the Olympics.
    A former political prisoner described the appalling conditions in which
he was held. "External pressure is essential to improve the situation of
political prisoners," Yang Jianli said. Finally the director of Boxun, a
US-based, Chinese-language website that is still blocked in China, talked
about what motivates the site's volunteer contributors inside China who,
despite the risks, post reports on the social and political situation.

    Listen to the programme on http://olympicgames.rsfblog.org/




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4188, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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