China: Urgently Release Seriously Ill Journalist 15 Organizations Urge President Xi Jinping to Free Gao Yu, Others

(New York, August 6, 2015) – Fifteen human rights and press freedom organizations are urging Chinese President Xi Jinping to immediately release seriously ill journalist Gao Yu from prison. In a letter, the organizations also called for the release of all those held for the peaceful expression of their political views and in need of medical attention, as well as access to adequate medical care for all prisoners.

Gao, 71, has been incarcerated since her apprehension in April 2014 for allegedly leaking an internal Chinese Communist Party document disparaging human rights. In April 2015, she was convicted after an unfair trial and sentenced to seven years in prison. Gao suffers from chronic heart pain, high blood pressure, and other diseases. After her detention center allowed her a full checkup, a doctor found signs of blockages in her heart arteries and abnormal lymph node growth that could be malign.

“Since Gao Yu’s unjust imprisonment, her health has only deteriorated further,” saidSophie RichardsonChina director at Human Rights Watch. “Beijing has shown cruel disregard for the health of imprisoned critics of the government, as evidenced by the deaths in custody of Cao Shunli and Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. Gao should be released immediately to get the medical care she needs.”

The organizations called on President Xi to:

Immediately release journalist Gao Yu;

Release all prisoners – especially those in poor health – incarcerated for the peaceful exercise of their political views;

Ensure that all prisoners receive prompt access to adequate medical care;

Accept an independent, international investigation into the deaths in custody of Tibetan monk Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and activist Cao Shunli; and

Allow prison visits by the United Nations expert on torture.
The 15 organizations include Amnesty International, China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group, The Committee to Protect Journalists, The Committee to Support Chinese Lawyers, Freedom House, Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union, Human Rights in China, Human Rights Watch, Independent Chinese PEN Center, Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese, PEN American Center, Reporters Without Borders, Solidarité Chine, and Tiananmen Mothers Campaign.

 

 

Journalist missing after investigative report

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) express serious concern following the disappearance of Indian journalist Chayan Sarkar in West Bengal. The IFJ and the IJU demand urgent action by the authorities to investigate the disappearance and the deteriorating safety situation for media workers across India.

Sarkar, the Alipurduar district correspondent of the Uttar Banga Samvad daily, was last seen on Sunday, August 2. His disappearance is believed to be linked with an investigative report he published on July 28, regarding unofficial payments to guarantee admissions into graduation courses to colleges in Alipurduar. After the reports were published Sarkar received threats and supporters of the state’s ruling party held a demonstration out the front of his home.

On August 2, Sarkar received a phone call at 7.30pm and went out. He was last seen near Salsalabari railway station. His motorbike was recovered that night near Salsalabari market with his wallet and ID card in a nearby bush. His phones are still missing and switched off.

In a statement, the IJU President S N Sinha, Vice-President Ambati Anjaneyulu and Secretary-General Amar Devulapalli expressed concerns that Sarkar’s life may be in danger as he might have been abducted.

The IJU said: “It is strange that no clue is available on the missing of the journalist even after four days raises questions over the investigation process, notwithstanding the assertions of state government spokespersons that the police are conducting a special drive to trace him.”

The IJU noted that some local leaders of the ruling party had threatened the journalist after his exposé of the scam. The IJU criticized the involvement of leaders of the ruling party in the disappearance.

The IJU leaders urged the Press Council of India (PCI) to immediately intervene and direct the West Bengal government to take immediate steps to find the missing journalist.

The IFJ said: “The IFJ is seriously concerned by the disappearance of Chayan Sarkar and demands immediate action. The IFJ also condemns the government inaction to provide security to Sarkar prior to his disappearance following the threats and demonstration against him.”

The IFJ added: “The number of threats and attacks on journalists has sharply risen in India in recent months, and the IFJ urge the Indian government to take necessary steps urgently to ensure journalists’ safety.”