HKJA urges the release of Tan Zuoren, and condemns Sichuan police for restriction on press freedom

The Hong Kong Journalists Association is outraged by the 5 year imprisonment term imposed on Tan Zuoren in Chengdu. The HKJA condemns the verdict of the Chengdu Municipal Intermediate People’s Court. His conviction for alleged subversion is tied to his writing about the Tienanmen Democratic Movement.

The HKJA strongly urges the local authority to immediately release Tan Zuoren.

The HKJA condemns the Chengdu police for the violent interference with the reporting of Hong Kong Journalists. Such brutal acts by the police are indefensible under any circumstances. By such actions the Chengdu police suppressed the right of Hong Kong reporters to report on the case.

As the HKJA understands it, the Hong Kong reporters arrived early outside the court building and started to gather news. They were closely monitored by the police. But before the hearing began, numerous policemen came out from the court and violently forced the reporters to enter an office inside the building.

The police clashed with the reporters and some reporters were slightly injury. Reporters were held separately in separate rooms. The reporters were released 30 minutes after the verdict was handed down. This operation aimed at deterring the news reporting of the case.

The HKJA urges the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office (HKMAO) of the State Council and the All-China Journalists Association (ACJA) to follow up and explain this case. All detained reporters carried the Press Card issued by the Mainland authorities. Nevertheless, the court police still accused the journalists of “illegal reporting”.

According to the rule of the Press Card, journalists can report news without interference in China except in prohibited zones. This rule has been implemented for over a year, but the court police still accused the reporters of not informing the court before reporting news. This excuse is a ridiculous joke. It shows that the HMAO and the ACJA failed in their duty by neglecting to explain to the police the implementation of this policy.

According to the lawyer of Tan Zuoren, Tan was charged with inciting subversion of state power because of his article, named “1989: The journal of a witness in Tienanmen Square”. His investigations about the ‘jerry built project’ in Sichuan and the deaths of children in the earthquake were not mentioned in  court by the prosecutor.

The verdict showed the court operated in a “black box”. The freedom of speech of Tan Zuoren should be protected. The verdict publicly violated the human rights that are protected by the ICCPR and which Tan Zuoren should enjoy.

Moreover, freedom of speech is protected by Article 35 of the PRC constitution and the Human Rights Action Plan (09-10) which should be respected.

The HKJA believes that there is no ground for the conviction of Tan Zuoren and, further, completely violates the basic human rights of Tan Zuoren. The sentence is shameful and unscrupulously tramples on human rights in China. It also overthrows the promise of the government to protect human rights.

HKJA strongly urges the authorities to release Tan Zuoren immediately, loosen the constraining State Security Law so that the common rights of the people are respected and the rule of law is exercised.


Hong Kong Journalists Association
9th February 2010

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