Increase in pre-Olympic repression, with at least 24 journalists and cyber-dissidents arrested or sentenced since January



    MONTREAL, June 27 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders has recorded
24 cases of journalists, cyber-dissidents or free expression activists being
arrested or sentenced to jail terms since the start of the year. At the same
time, at least 80 foreign journalists have been obstructed in the course of
their work, above all in the Tibetan regions and in Sichuan.
    "Where is the opening so often promised by the organisers of the Beijing
Olympic Games and the International Olympic Committee?" the press freedom
organisation asked. "Instead of an opening, these games are being used, more
than ever, as a pretext to arrest, harass and censor. This situation is
unacceptable and reflects the IOC's inability to guarantee a favourable
environment for the games in accordance with the Olympic Charter."
    Last year ended badly with the arrest of leading activist Hu Jia in late
December, and the start of this year was marked by his sentence to three and a
half years in prison. But at least 23 other journalists, online writers and
free speech activists have been arrested or sentenced to prison terms.
    The authorities have made some concessions, such as the release of Ching
Cheong and Yu Huafeng, but they have taken no account of the fact that the
health of Zhang Jianhong, a writer better known as Li Hong, and Yang Maodong,
a writer better known Guo Feixiong, has deteriorated in prison.
    The terrible earthquake in Sichuan has not helped to reduce the
repression either. Journalist Qi Chonghuai was sentenced to four years in
prison the day after the quake. And Huang Qi, a well-known activist who has a
human rights website, was arrested on 10 June for reporting the arrest of a
person who had been writing accounts of the quake and its aftermath.
    The harassment of activists who talk to the foreign news media or write
articles for overseas Chinese media has also been stepped up. This campaign is
being orchestrated by the public security and state security departments in
order to intimidate human rights activists who might try to speak out before
or during the games.
    Reporters Without Borders' chief demand, as regards the Beijing Olympics,
has always been the release of imprisoned journalists, cyber-dissidents and
free expression activists before the start of the games.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Executive Director,
Reporters Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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