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China: End Abuses of Media Freedom

August 17, 2008

For Immediate Release
China: End Abuses of Media Freedom
IOC Should Investigate and Publicize Abuses
Human Rights Watch
China: End Abuses of Media Freedom

New York -- The International Olympic Committee (IOC) should turn
words into action and immediately establish a reporting mechanism for
violations of media freedoms in China, Human Rights Watch said today.
Human Rights Watch and other groups have documented many violations
of China's promise to allow press freedom in exchange for hosting the
Olympic Games.

On August 14, 2008, the IOC spokesperson, Giselle Davies, ended
months of IOC silence by saying that the committee "disapproved of
any attempts to hinder a journalist who is going about doing his job
seemingly within the rules and regulations." Over the past year, the
IOC has been provided extensive documentation of such abuses,
including physical assaults of journalists, but has not publicly
spoken about the issue or challenged the Chinese government.

"The IOC's public expression of concern is welcome, but it won't have
any effect without real action," said Sophie Richardson, Asia
advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. "The International Olympic
Committee's failure to address this problem highlights the urgent
need for mechanisms to prevent further abuses."

Human Rights Watch has documented almost daily violations of China's
commitment to the IOC to allow the foreign media "complete freedom to
report" during the Beijing Games, as stipulated by the Chinese
government's temporary regulations, which allow foreign journalists
to speak to "any consenting interviewee" between January 1, 2007 and
October 17, 2008 (for a list of Chinese officials' promises and
statements made about human rights and the Olympics please visit:

Since the Games opened on August 8, foreign journalists in Beijing
have told Human Rights Watch that surveillance and harassment by
security personnel has intensified. Those security personnel include
plainclothes police, official Olympics volunteers, and Beijing
citizens in neighborhood committees who reporters say attempt to
deliberately intimidate them and their sources by  photographing and
video-recording their movements. "Today I was checking one of
(Beijing's) parks and I was followed at times by five people, some of
them filming me and taking photos of me. I feel like a target," a
foreign journalist told Human Rights Watch on August 7.

Human Rights Watch said that the IOC should:

· establish a 24-hour hotline in Beijing for foreign journalists to
report violations during the course of the games;

· demand that the Chinese government investigate cases of arrests,
detentions, and harassment of media and ensure that there will be no
further abuses;

· publicly press the Chinese government to disclose the whereabouts
of  sources who have disappeared after giving interviews to foreign media; and

· investigate all incidents of abuse of foreign journalists and their
sources and report on them publicly in China before the opening of
the September Paralympics to help avert similar media freedom abuses.

In the past 10 days, Human Rights Watch has documented incidents of
abuse of foreign media freedom, including:

August 13: John Ray, a correspondent for Britain's ITN channel, was
arrested as he reported on a small protest near the Bird's Nest
Stadium. Ray said he was "bundled away, pushed to the floor and
pinned down before being manhandled into the back of a police van."
He suffered minor bruises.

August 12: While waiting in line to register at a police post outside
Korla, Xinjiang province, an Associated Press journalist and
photographer were approached by a policeman wearing a flak jacket and
helmet. The policeman pushed the reporter, pointed his assault rifle
at him, and declared: "This is Chinese territory. You have to obey
the rules." After registering, the journalists returned to their
vehicle and continue their journey.

August 11:  British photographer Jack Hill of The Times newspaper was
detained for seven hours in Kuqa, Xinjiang province, while trying to
cover the aftermath of deadly bombings in the town. Police said that
Hill's travel documents – a receipt for the ongoing renewal of his
J-2 journalist visa which immigration police in Beijing assured him
would be acceptable to authorities – were inadequate. The Kuqa police
threatened Hill with arrest if he attempted to leave the police
station for his hotel. Hill was only released after a colleague asked
at a Beijing news conference later that day about the justification
for Hill's detention.

August 8: Police detained an Associated Press writer and photographer
in Yining, Xinjiang province, for 45 minutes. Police forbade the
journalists from using their cell phones, videotaped the two
journalists, and deleted images from the photographer's camera.

August 7: The Chinese government denied an entry visa to Radio Free
Asia Tibetan service broadcaster Dhondup Gonsar, a US citizen who had
already been accredited to cover the Beijing Olympics.

August 7: Police manhandled foreign journalists who covered a small
protest by American Christians in Beijing's Tiananmen Square and
tried to take the reporters' microphones and notebooks.

August 6: "Angry and aggressive" uniformed police grabbed and briefly
detained ESPN producer Arty Berko while he was attempting to
photograph a protest banner erected near the Bird's Nest Olympic
stadium in Beijing. After he was released by police, Berko said he
was "physically accosted" by plainclothes onlookers apparently
angered by his efforts to take photographs at the protest scene.

August 5: Paramilitary troops in Kashgar, Xinjiang province,
physically attacked and injured Masami Kawakita, a photographer with
the Tokyo Chunichi Sports newspaper, and Shinji Katsuta, a reporter
with the Nippon Television Network, as they were attempting to cover
the aftermath of the violence which killed 16 policemen in the city
the previous day. The journalists' employers, along with the Kyodo
news service and several witnesses, said the paramilitaries forcibly
removed the two journalists from a public street, beat them and
damaged their equipment.

August 4: A group of police and guards forcibly seized the camera of
a Hong Kong-based journalist while he and a group of foreign
journalists interviewed bystanders adjacent the scene of lethal
attack earlier that day against border police in Kashgar, Xinjiang.

"It's up to the Chinese government and the IOC to ensure media
freedom during the Beijing Games, and so far both have failed
miserably," Richardson said. "If the IOC is willing to acknowledge
that this problem exists, it should do all it can to prevent any more
abuses. The committee might also examine its own complicity in the problem."

To see Human Rights Watch's "Reporters' Guide to Covering the Beijing
Olympics," please visit:

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on the human rights situation
in China, please visit:

For more information, please contact:
In Hong Kong, Phelim Kine (English, Mandarin): +852-6604-9792 (mobile)
In Hong Kong, Nicholas Bequelin (English, French, Mandarin):
+852-8198-1040 (mobile)
In Hong Kong, Minky Worden (English, Cantonese): +852-6497-1016 (mobile)
In Washington, DC, Sophie Richardson (English, Mandarin):
+1-202-612-4341; or +1-917-721-7473 (mobile)
In London, Brad Adams (English): +44-20-7713-2767; or +44-790-872-8333 (mobile)
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
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