Journalist Barred from Attending Training on UN Human Rights Mechanisms; Online Column BlockedComments Off on Journalist Barred from Attending Training on UN Human Rights Mechanisms; Online Column Blocked
(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, September 18, 2008)—On September 1, Zan Aizong (昝爱宗), a journalist and internet writer from Zhejiang Province, was barred from attending a training workshop on UN human rights mechanisms in Geneva. Zan’s online column on current affairs, meizhou dianping (Weekly Comments), has also been blocked by the authorities since September 16.
On September 1, Zan was barred from leaving for Geneva by the border police at Shanghai Pudong Airport. The police did not issue any written or verbal explanation regarding the incident or compensate Zan for having to cancel the ticket. Zan was invited to attend a training workshop on human rights mechanisms organized by international NGOs.
Meanwhile, Zan’s column, meizhou dianping, has been blocked by the authorities since September 16. Launched on August 7, the column had gained increasing readership for its critical commentaries on popular topics of current affairs. The column was blocked two days after its last post on the alleged cover-up of toxic milk powder produced by Sanlu Group, a Chinese dairy company. It is unclear who ordered the blockade but it is believed that “higher authorities in Beijing” asked the departments responsible for internet censorship in Guangzhou, where meizhou dianping is hosted, to block the column. The column’s articles, which had been distributed and posted on other websites by internet users, are now inaccessible in China, a sign that the blockade is nationwide and systematic.
CHRD is dismayed that the Shanghai police violated Zan’s right to freedom of movement, a right guaranteed in Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which China has signed (but not yet ratified). The Shanghai police also violated Zan’s right to participating in international human rights training, a right recognized under Articles 15 and 16 of the Declaration to Protect Human Rights Defenders, which China endorsed at the UN General Assembly in 1999.
CHRD is concerned that the authorities have abused Zan’s right to freedom of expression, a right guaranteed in Articles 19 of the ICCPR as well as Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution.
CHRD calls on the Chinese government to stop punishing human rights activists by means of depriving their freedom of movement and their opportunities to participate in international human rights activities.
CHRD urges the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders to inquire into the Chinese government’s violation of the aforementioned rights.