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Press Release for World Press Freedom Day 2008

Freedom of Expression in Hong Kong?
International Organisations Call for Freedom of Expression in China
Groups Condemn HK Government’s Denial of Writers and Artists’ Entry to Hong Kong
HONG KONG 30 April 2008:    In the run up to the 100-day countdown of the Beijing Olympics, internationally renowned writers and artists, who planned to come to Hong Kong to attend peaceful activities have been denied entry by Hong Kong government.
They include: Zhang Yu, Coordinator, Writers in Prison Committee, Independent Chinese PEN Centre; Jens Galschiot, Danish artist, and two of his colleagues. They were invited by Hong Kong groups for the One Dream: Free Expression in China event, which includes a two-day seminar, and an arts fair.
As the final 100-day countdown to the Beijing Olympics begins, prominent international freedom of expression groups* have gathered in Hong Kong for a history-making mission: to send a clear message to the Chinese government: Make the Freedom of Expression Dream a Reality in China.
“Freedom of expression in Hong Kong has empowered it to play an important role in pushing the evolution of China,” says Yu Ying-shih, a world-renowned historian, in remarks celebrating the opening of the seminar on freedom of expression in China and Hong Kong. “However, with the Hong Kong government’s overreaction and censorship, we are very worried the crackdown is being extended to Hong Kong, and China has no sincerity to realize its promises.”
“We have come to Hong Kong to call upon China to fulfill its guarantee to open media access on the mainland, and now we must be certain to include freedom of expression in Hong Kong. Freedom of expression is a basic human right. We strongly condemn the actions of the Hong Kong government. The intent of our events is peaceful,” said Joanne Leedom-Ackerman, Vice President of the International PEN.
The Chinese government is urged to honour its pledge when it made its bid for the Beijing Olympics in 2001. It is China’s obligation to ensure that freedom of expression in China is no longer just a dream.
This appeal is made against a background of the worsening situation for freedom of expression in China. There are currently at least 39 people in China imprisoned for their writing. These include Han Chinese, as well as Tibetans and Uyghurs. We call for their release.
Despite new regulations promulgated last year to ease the stringent restrictions on news coverage on the Mainland, reporters continue to be deterred from exercising their rights. Telephone connections to reporters’ sources have either been disconnected or the sources have been intimidated. There have been restrictions on travel and movement, as well as physical harassment.
Despite this setback, the four days of activity will proceed as planned.
On May 1-2 while the Beijing Olympic Torch Relay proceeds through the streets of Hong Kong, there will be a seminar on Freedom of Expression. On May 3, there will be an arts fair and bus tour, including the groups’ submission of its letter to the Liaison Office of the Chinese Central Government in Hong Kong.

Click on the link to see the Rundown of the four-day activites:
For additional information please contact:
 Ms. Mak Yin-ting (HKJA):  (Tel) 2591-0692, (Email) 
 Ms. Chine Chan (Event information desk): (Tel) 6932-4600, (Email)

Co-organizers: Hong Kong Journalists Association, International Federation of Journalists, Reporters Sans Frontières, World Association of Newspapers, American PEN, Independent Chinese PEN, HK Chinese PEN, Sydney PEN.
Laogai Research Foundation, International Freedom of Expression Exchange Clearing House, China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group, Foundation for China's Democratic Movement , The Student Union of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Melbouirne PEN Centre
30/04/2008 02:57   updated more
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