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TV journalist killed; IFJ worried by recent spate of attacks

(IFJ/IFEX) - September 20, 2011 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is worried by a recent spate of attacks on journalists in China, including the killing of a television journalist in eastern China on September 19.

Li Xiang, about 30, a journalist for the LuoyangCity television station, was killed in the early hours of September 19 near his home in Xigong District, Luoyang, Henan Province.

According to the China-based Southern Metropolis Daily, Li was stabbed more than 10 times and his portable computer was stolen.

Police have classified the case as primarily a robbery, but have not ruled out other possible motives for Li's death.

The IFJ is informed that Li's journalistic inquiries focused on investigating social issues, including high-profile crime cases. Questions have been raised by Li's colleagues about a possible connection between his reporting and his death.

The LuoyangCity television station has reportedly forbidden staff from discussing the matter publicly.

"The IFJ demands a full investigation into the murder of Li Xiang, including possible links to his work as a journalist," IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

In recent years, many journalists in China have complained about harassment, assaults and death threats suffered in the execution of their professional duties. Often the assailants are unidentified persons, security personnel or agents acting on behalf of local governments. Attempts by victims and their families to seek justice are commonly frustrated by the unwillingness of authorities to thoroughly investigate the real motivation for such attacks.

In another alarming case on September 16, journalists Zhang Jun and Zhao Ting, of Zhejiang regional television station, were reportedly assaulted as they sought to report on the health impacts of pollution caused by an international manufacturing company operating in Zhejiang, eastern China.

The journalists were assaulted by security personnel employed by Jinko Solar Holding Co, a manufacturer listed on the New York Stock Exchange, as they tried to enter the Jinko factory in Yuenhua village, Zhejiang province, according to witnesses.

The journalists were covering a protest by Yuenhua villagers who complained that factory pollution was linked to a rise in cancer cases among the local population.

The journalists' equipment was confiscated and destroyed. On September 17, police arrested three security personnel accused of the attack on the journalists.

Similar cases occurred earlier this year when a China Central Television (CCTV) journalist was stabbed in the face by an unknown male outside her office, and in December 2010, when a journalist for the Beijing Morning Newspaper was attacked and killed by five unknown persons.

The challenges to safety and security for journalists in China have been compounded by the failure of China's authorities to allow public access to the investigation and prosecution of such assault cases.

"The IFJ calls on the Minister of the Public Security Bureau of China to publish the total number of cases involving attacks on journalists," Park said.

"Further public education is also necessary to instil respect for press freedom and a repudiation of violence and intimidation toward the media."
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