Journalists at a Chinese newspaper have gone on strike against censorship after its New Year’s editorial was allegedly swapped with one written by government officials.
About 100 staff at the Southern Weekend title in Guangdong province refused to work after the original editorial calling for the protection of individual rights was switched for a eulogy of the Communist Party.
According to reports, Chinese journalists are calling the scandal the “rape of Southern Weekend“. Singled out for the hijacking is propaganda chief of Guangdong province, Tuo Zhen, who also stands accused of falsely blaming journalists for the editorial on the newspaper’s microblog.
“The statement does not represent the opinion of the editorial staff,” said a response via a different microblog. “The editorial staff will fight against the falsified statement . . . Until the issue is resolved, we will not do any editorial work.”
The action is thought to be extremely rare as striking is effectively illegal in China, especially among a heavily-monitored and state-controlled media. However, according to reports, intellectuals, students, lawyers and other journalists have signed petitions pledging their support.
Edit: 10:30, 9 Jan: This story has been updated with news of the strike’s end and more. Read here.