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China 6 June 2003

Independent news website blocked on Tiananmen massacre anniversary

Reporters Without Borders today protested against the blocking of all access to the independent website Bumei Zhiye on the 14th anniversary of the Tiananmen square massacre on 4 June, in an evident attempt by the authorities to prevent any pro-democracy messages and criticism of the government.

"The blocking of this site is the latest of many repressive measures taken by the Chinese government in this present period of political tension," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said, noting that four cyber-dissidents were sentenced last week to prison terms ranging from eight to ten years.

"It shows yet again the Chinese government’s complete lack of tolerance for freedom of expression on the Internet," Ménard said, reiterating the organisation’s request to the new Chinese president, Hu Jintao, to allow independent sites to continue to function normally regardless of the political situation.

At least several hundred and possibly as many as several thousand pro-democracy demonstrators were killed by the People’s Liberation Army during the night of 3-4 June 1989. Every year since then, the authorities have tried to ensure that no mention is made of the anniversary.

The authorities seem to have made it a practice to censor Bumei Zhiye during every important political event. It was for example blocked throughout the 16th Communist Party Congress last November.

Started in January 2001, Bumei Zhiye is today one of the main independent websites in China. It was the first to protest last November against the disappearance of the young Internet user, Liu Di, 22, who was secretly detained by the Chinese authorities because of the views she had voiced on the Internet.

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