Yet another set of rules restricting the work of journalists in China takes the concept of "overbroad" to new heights. According to guidelines made public Tuesday by the official state news agency Xinhua, the new rules cover various "information, materials, and news products that journalists may deal with during their work, including state secrets, commercial secrets, and unpublicized information."
The Sri Lankan government has taken yet another step to silence critical media coverage, banning non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from holding press conferences and issuing press releases, as well as running workshops or training sessions. The action, announced Sunday by Sri Lanka's Ministry of Defense, left the country's many press groups wondering whether they are even allowed to issue a statement criticizing the decision.
The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China released at the end of May its annual report on conditions for international journalists working in the country. As we have done in the past, we're posting this year's report as a PDF. The takeaway is that conditions have certainly not gotten better and many feel they have gotten worse, according to the 123 respondents to the survey, slightly more than half of its membership of 236.
In preparation for today's Congressional Briefing on Media Freedom in Vietnam, organized by members of the U.S. House of Representatives and featuring a panel of Vietnamese bloggers and others, CPJ has been in close contact with the family of Nguyen Van Hai, a blogger who has been in jail since 2008. We have also met with several other bloggers from Vietnam, some of whom are in Washington, D.C. today.
On April 15, 1989, Hu Yaobang died. Hu had been general secretary of the Communist Party from 1982 to 1987, and recognized for his leanings toward economic reform in China. His death led to demonstrations around China, some of them in Tiananmen Square. On June 4, 1989, Tiananmen became the focus of the government's wrath, and in the intersections of the broad streets around the plaza, the government cracked down brutally. Since then, it has been a government tradition to start cracking down on protesters, critics, and dissidents before April 15, and this year is no different. China watchers say the strictures have already begun with warnings to some and detentions for others. I checked with foreign journalists over the weekend, and they say they're aware of the crackdowns, but are not feeling any heat themselves. Yet.
In Pakistan, reporting on the military intelligence services or insurgent groups or machinations within political parties is the normal grist for the media mill. A lot of the coverage relies on reporters with inside sources. The sources use the media as a battleground for their infighting, relying on sympathetic reporters to put forward their positions. It keeps the wildly popular TV talk show hosts occupied and tends to fill the inside pages of newspapers, if not always the front pages. It's not a problem unique to Pakistan, but the country's media have taken it to a very high level.
Dinh Dang Dinh, a former Vietnamese schoolteacher and blogger, died on April 3 from cancer of the stomach. Near death, he had been released from his six-year prison sentence on March 21, and allowed to return home to die in Dak Nong province in Vietnam's Central Highlands. His crime, to which he had pled not guilty, had been to blog about corruption and environmental issues. He was found guilty under Article 88-1 (c) of the Criminal Code for "conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam."
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