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Restrictions on China Jailed Nobel Laureate and Supporters Must Cease

December 9, 2010

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called for China's authorities to lift blanket bans and restrictions around imprisoned human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo and his supporters as a ceremony tomorrow formally recognising the award approaches.

"The Chinese Government is obligated under the country's constitution to allow freedom of expression and freedom of association, two fundamental human rights that are consistently undermined by the actions it takes to suppress and control its citizens," IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.

"These crude attempts at restricting Liu and his supporters will only serve to strengthen the resolve of those working for an open and democratic society in China.

"We welcome the announcement by Chinese authorities of an alternative "Confucius Peace Prize", though it is doubtful that it fully reflects the spirit of Confucian ideals."

Liu Xiaobo was detained at the end of 2008 just before the release of Charter 08, a manifesto for political reform he helped to draft calling for freedom of assembly, expression and religion. On December 25, 2009, he was sentenced to eleven years in prison for inciting subversion. The ceremony to be held tomorrow in Oslo will reserve an empty chair to signify Liu's inability to be formally presented with the coveted and influential award in person.

Liu's wife Liu Xia and other family members have been placed under house shortly after the prize was announced by the Nobel Committee on October 8. According to a report of Hong Kong-based Ming Pao on November 8, Liu's younger brother said that their whole family was warned by China's security bureau not to accept media interviews or attend the Nobel ceremony. Many scholars, lawyers and artists were also prevented from leaving the country, as authorities said "they might have endangered national security".

A number of Beijing-based foreign correspondents were threatened by Foreign Ministry officials when they applied for an extension to stay in Beijing, the newspaper reported on December 4.

The IFJ is calling for the following key actions to be taken in order for China's government to cease censorship and harassment of journalists and media workers by following the terms of the country's Constitution and laws which govern freedom of the press, freedom of expression and freedom of association, recognising the fundamental rights of those associated with Charter 08:

* The continuing detention of Liu Xiaobo must cease immediately, as must the house arrest of his wife Liu Xia and other members of his family;

* Co-signatories of Charter 08, arrested and detained on spurious charges, must be released immediately;

* China's authorities must lift restrictions on Liu's family and supporters who have been threatened and physically prevented from speaking to the media; and

* The Central Propaganda Department and other Departments responsible for media regulation must lift non-publication and other restrictive orders which ban reporting of the Liu case or the Nobel Peace Prize in any form of media, including deleting any articles from the internet.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

For more information contact:
IFJ Asia-Pacific
International Federation of Journalists
Phone: +612 9333 0919

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