French journalist reporting on Uighurs forced to leave China

French journalist who criticised China’s mistreatment of Uighur minority in Xinjiang is forced to leave China as Chinese government announces it will not renew her press accreditation for 2016

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Ursula Gauthier, a French journalist of the weekly l'Obs news magazine, gestures as a poster of China's President Xi Jinping is seen in the background during an interview

Chinese government announced on Thursday that it will not renew French journalist Ursula Gauthier’s press credentials for 2016 because she criticised the country’s mistreatment of the Muslim Uighur minority living in the north-western region of Xinjiang where the army burned alive at least ten Turkic-speaking ethnic Uighurs in November.

On Saturday, Chinese Foreign Ministry said that Gauthier, a reporter for the French current affairs magazine L'Obs, can not work in China anymore as she refused to apologize for the article she wrote on November 18.

Gauthier has said "They wanted me to apologise publicly for my wrongs. I cannot apologise for crimes I did not commit."

According to an English translation of her article, Gauthier wrote that China was using the Paris terror attacks to justify its crackdown on the Uighur people, during the Chinese crackdown hundreds of people have died.

China’s Public Security Ministry announced that they captured the suspects involved in the coal mine attack which took place in September in Xinjiang province, only hours after Chinese President Xi Jinping told French Prime Minister Francois Hollande that his country stands by France in the wake of Paris terror attacks.

On November 20, the government stated that Chinese Armed Forces had killed 28 “terrorists” who it calls “foreign extremists” for allegedly being behind the September coal mine incident, but refused to give further details.

"In fact it was an explosion of local rage such as have blown up more and more often in this distant province whose inhabitants, turcophone and Muslim Uighur, face pitiless repression," Gauthier wrote.

On Saturday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang criticised her article, saying it "openly supports terrorist activity, the killing of innocents and has outraged the Chinese public," while China’s state run news agency Xinhua described her words as “immoral and sensationalist.”

"Whether Gauthier admits it or not, her fact-distorting article equates to justifying terror attacks in Xinjiang," the agency stated on Monday.

China has been accused of attempting to silence and intimidate foreign media as 13 American academics were expelled from the country after writing essays about Xinjiang in 2004.

TRTWorld and agencies