By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Dec. 12: China is the worst jailer in 2019 according to the annual report released on Wednesday by the Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent, non-profit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide. It said that China left behind Turkey and Saudi Arabia to top the infamous list.
China, seen as one of the worst offenders of human rights violation, has jailed 48 journalists so far in 2019, just one shy of last year’s tally where 47 were jailed by the communist government. CPJ said that the the number of journalists jailed, “has steadily increased as President Xi Jinping consolidated political control of the country and instituted ever tighter controls on the media”.
The report also said that mass persecution in Xinjiang, a Muslim and ethnic Uyghur minority region also saw many journalists jailed. “A crackdown in Xinjiang province -- where a million members of Muslim ethnic groups have been sent to internment camps -- has led to the arrests of dozens of journalists, including some apparently jailed for journalistic activity years earlier,” CPJ said.
In Asia, Vietnam trailed China as the second worst in the continent jailing 12 journalists. Worldwide, Turkey was listed as the second worst with 47 jailed followed by Saudi Arabia and Egypt with 26 journalists jailed by the two middle eastern countries. CPJ said that in total 250 journalists have been jailed in 2019 so far.
The journalistic rights group said that majority of the jailed journalists were put behind bars on charges of or related to anti-state activities. However, the number of journalists charged with "fake news" increased to 30, compared with 28 last year.
Occupied Tibet remains one of the world’s most blacked out regions with Freedom House report saying that even the reclusive hermit nation of North Korea is more accessible than Tibet.