To mark World Press Freedom Day on May 3, Reporters Without Borders produced this map showing press freedom – or the lack of it – around the world. White marks the gold standard of free press, while black is the countries where journalists are at greatest peril.
DHARAMSHALA, May 4: China’s new president, Xi Jinping has been named as a “predator of freedom of information” by the global press freedom group, Reporters Without Borders.
Coinciding with World Press Freedom Day, May 3, the group released its updated list of 39 Predators of Freedom of Information, which include presidents, politicians, religious leaders, militias, and criminal organisations that censor, imprison, kidnap, torture and kill journalists and other news providers.
“These predators of freedom of information are responsible for the worst abuses against the news media and journalists,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said in a statement.
“They are becoming more and more effective. In 2012, the level of violence against news providers was unprecedented and a record number of journalists were killed. World Press Freedom Day, which was established on the initiative of Reporters Without Borders, must be used to pay tribute to all journalists, professional and amateur, who have paid for their commitment with their lives, their physical integrity or their freedom, and to denounce the impunity enjoyed by these predators.”
Xi makes it to the notorious list along with five new “predators” including the Jihadi group Jabhat Al-Nosra from Syria, members and supporters of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Pakistan’s Baloch armed groups, and Maldives’ religious extremists.
“A predator goes and is replaced by another. It is no surprise that Xi Jinping has taken former Chinese President Hu Jintao’s place as predator. The change of person has not in any way affected the repressive system developed by China’s Communist Party,” RWF said in its statement.
Also coinciding with the 20th observance of World Press Freedom Day, renowned author Salman Rushdie joined other writers including exiled Chinese author Yu Jie in appealing to China to live up to its own constitution and laws guaranteeing freedom of expression, and calling on the public to put pressure on governments that crack down on writers.
The writers were on a PEN International panel Friday in New York, highlighting a report on trends of the last five years in China's crackdown on free expression.
"These regimes do not like being highlighted," Rushdie, the Booker Prize winning author said while noting that when PEN focuses on a writer who has been imprisoned, 90 percent of them are freed within six months.
Other writers who signed onto the appeal included Mario Vargas Llosa, J.M. Coetzee, Marjane Satrapi, Wole Soyinka, Nadine Gordimer, Andrei Bitov and Tomas Transtromer.