(TibetanReview.net, Jan20’24) – China is the worst jailer of journalists in the world, according to New York-based watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), releasing a report Jan 18, based on its Dec 1 prison census survey. Nearly half of the journalists behind bars in the country were Uyghurs who reported on the persecution of the mostly Muslim group in Xinjiang, the group said.
“China has long ranked as one of the world’s worst jailers of journalists,” the group’s report said, noting that the exact number of imprisoned journalists there could not be determined due to high level of censorship there.
The group’s 2023 census has found that there was a spike in arrested journalists worldwide, with 320 believed to be behind bars – close to a record high.
More than half of those jailed journalists were charged with false news, anti-state or terrorism charges in retaliation for their coverage, the group’s research has found.
China had 44 journalists in prison, accounting for 32% of the worldwide total. It was followed by Myanmar, with 43. Vietnam was fifth on the list with 19, ahead of Iran and just behind Russia.
“Pervasive censorship in China, which has ranked as one of the world’s worst jailers of journalists for years, makes it notoriously difficult to determine the exact number of journalists jailed there. Nonetheless, the country continues to exert its censorship regime with arrests in Hong Kong following Beijing’s harsh national security law amid mass pro-democracy protests,” the group said in its press release.
“Our research shows how entrenched authoritarianism is globally, with governments emboldened to stamp out critical reporting and prevent public accountability,” the release said.
In the case of China, the “authorities are also ramping up the use of anti-state charges to hold journalists, with three out of the five new China cases in CPJ’s 2023 database consisting of journalists accused of espionage, inciting separatism, or subverting state power,” the report said.
The report also said, “Many journalists charged are ethnic Uighurs from Xinjiang, where Beijing has been accused of crimes against humanity for its mass detentions and harsh repression of the region’s mostly Muslim ethnic groups.”
“The media repression highlights the Chinese government’s harsh attempt to silence minority voices and independent reporting – even as Beijing repeatedly rejected claims of widespread human rights abuses in Xinjiang,” Beh Lih Yi, the CPJ’s Asia program coordinator has told RFA Uyghur.