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China 5 June 2007

Renewed call for release of Shi Tao after mother reads Tiananmen poem at Golden Pen Award

Reporters Without Borders today reiterated its call to the Chinese authorities to quickly release journalist Shi Tao after his mother received the World Association of Newspapers’ Golden Pen award on his behalf at a ceremony yesterday in Cape Town (South Africa). The innocent victim of the continuing crackdown on those who defend the memory of the Tiananmen Square victims, Shi was convicted thanks to Yahoo!’s cooperation with the Chinese police.

"The Chinese authorities must quickly review the decision to impose a 10-year prison sentence on this journalist," Reporters Without Borders said. "Held in a forced-labour camp, Shi Tao is innocent. We appeal to the international community to redouble its efforts to obtain the release of Shi and the 80 other journalists and cyber-dissidents held in China."

Shi’s mother, Gao Qinsheng, paid homage to her son at yesterday’s ceremony in the South African city of Cape Town, reading a poem he wrote a few weeks before his arrest to the memory of the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre of June 1989. With tears in her eyes, she said: "He did what every courageous journalist must do." Her speech was warmly applauded by those present including President Thabo Mbeki.


My whole life

Will never get past "June"

June, when my heart died

When my poetry died

When my lover

Died in an abandoned pool of blood

June, the scorching sun burns open my skin

Revealing the true nature of my wound

June, the little fish swims out of the blood-red sea

Toward another place to hibernate

June, the earth shifts, the river falls silent

Piled up letters unable to be delivered to the dead

World Editors Forum president George Brock revealed during the ceremony that the government-backed Chinese Press Association had asked that the prize not be awarded to Shi on the grounds that he had been convicted according to the law.

Shi was sentenced to 10 years in prison on 30 April 2005 for "illegally divulging state secrets abroad" because he gave a foreign-based website the text of a message about coverage of the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre which the authorities had sent to his newspaper, Dangdai Shang Bao (Contemporary Business News). The court’s verdict indicated that Yahoo!’s Hong Kong subsidiary gave the Chinese police information that helped to convict him.


In this country
3 June - China
“Tank Man” photo displayed outside Chinese embassy in Paris on eve of Tiananmen Square massacre
2 June - China
All references to Tiananmen Square massacre closely censored for 20 years
12 May - China
Foreign reporters prevented from working in Sichuan a year after earthquake
24 April - China
Concern that detained Tibetan magazine editor is being tortured
25 March - China
Government blocks access to YouTube

in the annual report
China - Annual report 2008
China - Annual report 2007
China - Annual report 2006

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Asia press releases
3 June - North Korea
Pyongyang judges asked to be lenient with two American journalists
3 June - Afghanistan
US forces arrest a journalist in Khost
2 June - China
Blocking of Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Blogger deprives Chinese of Web 2.0
2 June - Sri Lanka
Press freedom activist badly beaten in Colombo, hospitalised
29 May - Sri Lanka
Journalists trying to cover fate of Tamils are threatened, obstructed