Protesters arrested for interview with foreign media in China

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has criticized Mainland China’s media for not reporting on a police crack-down against protesters in Inner Mongolia on April 4, and for punishing protesters who accepted interviews about the incident from international media.

On April 4, hundreds of riots police were mobilized to crack-down on anti-pollution in Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region of China. However, no Chinese media reported the incident. During the crack-down, police used rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas to disperse protesters, during which a number were injured. On the same day, two protesters who accepted interviews with international media were arrested by local police. One of the protesters was detained for three days and the other faces 15 days imprisonment, yet neither have faced proper legal procedure. According to Radio Free Asia, police also threatened local villagers from accepting interviews with international media and censored content on WeChat, a Chinese communication tool.

Following the incident, neither the local Naiman Banner government nor Mainland authorities reported the protest of the incidents.

The IFJ Asia Pacific Office said: “Incidents such as these are in the best interest of the public and should be reported. Withholding information is a violation of human rights and the government should ensure that Chinese citizens are able to access information freely. The Government should also ensure that people are not penalized for undertaking interviews with the media, which is not illegal.”

The IFJ urges Li Keqiang, Premier of China, to call for immediate investigation into the crack-down against the protesters report all findings to the public. We also urge the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television to investigate reports of any undue influence to block media reporting on the incident.