Clandestine FM radio broadcast today in Beijing by Reporters Without Borders, hours before Olympic opening ceremony
Members of Reporters Without Borders today broadcast "Radio Without Borders," China’s only independent FM radio station, in Beijing just hours before the start of the Olympic Games opening ceremony. In a programme lasting 20 minutes, Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard and Chinese human rights activists called on the Chinese government to respect free speech.
"The Chinese authorities refused to issue visas to ten of our members but this has not stopped us from making ourselves heard in Beijing by means of a clandestine radio broadcast using miniaturised FM transmitters and antennas," Ménard said. "Reporters Without Borders devised and carried out this protest in a spirit of resistance against state control of the media."
The press freedom organisation added : "This is the first non-state radio station to have broadcast in China since the Communist Party took power in 1949. Only international Chinese-language radio stations broadcasting on the short wave would be able to break this news and information monopoly, but they are jammed by the authorities."
The Radio Without Borders broadcast began at 08:08 local time on 08/08/08, exactly 12 hours before the start of the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games. The programme, in English, French and Mandarin, was heard in on 104.4 FM in different districts of the Chinese capital.
Listen to the program in English :
In French :
In mandarin :
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In his introduction, Ménard described the broadcast as a "gesture of defiance towards the Chinese authorities, who are still keeping dozens and dozens of journalists and Internet users in prison." Addressing the authorities, Ménard said : "Despite everything, there are people who are going to be able to speak out about things you don’t want the public to hear, in the very heart of Beijing. Regardless of the measures you take, you will not get rid of free speech."
Ménard then urged the Chinese authorities to release prisoners of conscience and stop jamming the frequencies used by international radio stations broadcasting in Chinese. "You banned us from going to Beijing, you expelled us from China. But despite all that, we are here, making our voice heard peacefully, in a completely non-violent fashion. It is a way of saying censorship just won’t work."
The broadcast included interviews with Chinese human rights activists who have found refuge abroad. A former journalist talked about the censorship and self-censorship that is imposed on her colleagues still in China. A human rights activist described the crackdown on Chinese activists in the run-up to the Olympics.
A former political prisoner described the appalling conditions in which he was held. "External pressure is essential to improve the situation of political prisoners," Yang Jianli said. Finally the director of Boxun, a US-based, Chinese-language website that is still blocked in China, talked about what motivates the site’s volunteer contributors inside China who, despite the risks, post reports on the social and political situation.