National People's Congress

Author appeals for end to censorship

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 July, 2017, 8:59am

Banned author Zhang Yihe and three mainland lawyers have sent an open letter to National People's Congress deputies appealing to them to abolish unreasonable censorship rules and investigate publishing authorities that are suppressing freedom of speech.

The letter, sent yesterday, called for an inquiry into 'unconstitutional' censorship methods of the General Administration of Press and Publication (Gapp) and other propaganda authorities.

It said the censorship practices had dogged publishing for decades and included random restrictions on publications, publicity department reviews, blacklists of banned titles and writers, and other covert warnings and penalties that were 'against international publication conventions'.

'Responsible administrative organs should be called up to face inquiry over their arbitrary unconstitutional behaviour,' the letter said.

'Decisions should be made to abolish inappropriate rules and systems to pave the way for a Journalism and Publication Law.'

Zhang has been trying to get NPC deputies to initiate a proposal and open discussion on the issue, but has failed because of the tight grip on open discussion in NPC meetings.

'Almost all the delegates agreed that legal action must be taken to rein in the rampant illegal and insane censorship by Gapp and other propaganda administrations, but most dared not submit the proposal nor discuss the suppression of publications and free speech at the NPC meetings,' she said.

In January, Zhang's book on the recollections of several Peking Opera stars before and after 1949 was among eight titles banned by the administration.

But Zhang said the open letter was an 'appeal for the protection of publication freedom of all intellectuals rather than removal of the ban on my work'.

'I will never give up even if this letter fails to be read or discussed at the meetings,' she said.

Her lawyer, Zhang Sizhi , said that according to the law, NPC delegates were obliged to listen to citizens' complaints about illegal administrative behaviour and question officials about those administrative orders.