Chinese journalist held after publishing book on Tiananmen

New York, June 13, 2013–Chinese authorities must immediately release a journalist who has been detained since May 31 following the publication of his book on the Tiananmen massacre, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Du Bin’s detention, which was reported by his family members, came a few days before the 24th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown.

“We call on Chinese authorities to release Du Bin, a brave journalist who has shed light on important issues of concern to the public,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director. “China must do away with such repressive tactics of silencing journalists who report on politically sensitive subjects if it aspires to be a respected leader in the world.”

A report by the BBC today cited Du’s sister saying police had confirmed that the journalist had been taken into custody but that the family had not been informed of any charges against him. Du, who has also worked as a freelance photographer with The New York Times, had been reported missing by his family on May 31, news reports said.

The Times report also said Du’s friends had found in the photographer’s apartment two copies of an unsigned police warrant that were issued for “disturbing order at a public place” and dated June 1. The report said the warrant falls under an administrative statute that police could use to hold Du for up to 15 days, during which he could be released, moved to China’s “re-education through labor” system, or formally charged.

In late May, Du had published a book titled “Tiananmen Massacre,” which is a compilation of previously published accounts from various government sources on the crackdown. In May, he had also released a documentary about alleged abuses at a forced-labor camp.

The BBC cited Hu Jia, a prominent Beijing-based activist and friend of Du Bin, as saying that he believed Du’s detention was because of his recent work. Hu said they found that “all of Din’s books … [and] materials he collected regarding the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown … have all gone missing.”

CPJ research shows that China remains one of the world’s worst jailers of the press, trailing only Turkey and Iran.

  • For more data and analysis on China, visit CPJ’s March 2013 special report, Challenged in China.