DHARAMSHALA, December 12: In 2012, China put more journalists behind bars than last year and retained its spot, for over a decade now, as one the worst jailors of press according to a new report.
The New York based Committee to Protect Journalists in its annual report on imprisoned journalists said the worldwide tally reached a record high of 232 individuals behind bars on December 1, 2012, thanks to large-scale imprisonments in Turkey, Iran, and China. This year’s record numbers are an increase of 53 over its 2011 tally and also the highest since CPJ began conducting worldwide surveys in 1990.
“The three nations, the world’s worst jailers of the press, each made extensive use of vague anti-state laws to silence dissenting political views, including those expressed by ethnic minorities,” CPJ said in a statement Tuesday. “Worldwide, anti-state charges such as terrorism, treason, and subversion were the most common allegations brought against journalists in 2012.”
China, the world’s third-worst jailer after Turkey and Iran, increased it tally of jailed journalists from 27 last year to 32 this year.
CPJ said China has made “extensive use of anti-state charges to jail online writers expressing dissident political views and journalists covering ethnic minority groups.”
“19 of the 32 journalists held in China are Tibetans or Uighurs imprisoned for documenting ethnic tensions that escalated in 2008,” CPJ said. “The detainees include Dhondup Wangchen, a documentary filmmaker jailed after interviewing Tibetans about their lives under Chinese rule.”
Wangchen, who is serving a six-year jail term and has been in poor health, was last month awarded by CPJ as one of its 2012 International Press Freedom Award winners.
Other Tibetans on the list includes, Kunchok Tsephel Gopey Tsang, Chomei website (Imprisoned: February 26, 2009, serving 15 years); Kunga Tsayang (Gang-Nyi), freelance (Imprisoned: March 17, 2009, serving five years); Tashi Rabten, freelance, (Imprisoned: April 6, 2010, serving four years); Dokru Tsultrim, freelance (Imprisoned: May 24, 2010); Kalsang Jinpa (Garmi), freelance, (Imprisoned: June 19, 2010); Jangtse Donkho (Nyen, Rongke), freelance, (Imprisoned: June 21, 2010); Buddha, freelance, (Imprisoned: June 26, 2010); Jolep Dawa, editor, (Imprisoned: October 1, 2010, serving three years); Choepa Lugyal (Meycheh), freelance, (Imprisoned: October 19, 2011); Dawa Dorje, freelance, (Imprisoned: February 3, 2012); and Gangkye Drubpa Kyab, (Imprisoned: February 15, 2012).
CPJ said it has sent letters expressing serious concerns to each country over the imprisonment of journalists and noted that in the past year, the group’s advocacy led to the early release of at least 58 imprisoned journalists worldwide.