The Committee for US International Broadcasting (CUSIB.org) has released the following statement in response to the US Agency for Global Media’s (USAGM) latest firing of two “VOA Mandarin 5” Voice of America (VOA) Chinese Branch journalists who for decades have brought uncensored news to China and in the past had been praised and received awards for their outstanding work and service.
According to the information CUSIB received, USAGM chief accountant and Acting Deputy Director Grant Turner informed by mail two experienced VOA Mandarin Service journalists who have been suspended with pay since May 2017 that he had decided to remove them from Federal Service effective May 17, 2019. The two employees can appeal the removal decision to one of the following U.S. government agencies: the U.S. Merits Systems Protection Board (MSPB), the Office of Special Counsel, or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
For Immediate Release
May 18, 2019
CUSIB Statement in Response to USAGM Latest Firing of Two “VOA Mandarin 5” Journalists
“We should recall that 30 years ago, an expression and voice of democracy was brutally crushed in Tiananmen Square. We should recall that Voice of America was one of the global witnesses that broadcast and preserved a record of those tragic events where thousands of Chinese students were crushed with tanks as they peacefully advocated for democracy and human rights. We should also recall that since that time the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has applied all of its resources to suppressing any account or acknowledgement of this government sponsored atrocity.
And now, we should acknowledge that VOA will submit to this CCP tactic of suppression and censorship when confronted with news and events that it finds embarrassing or that reveals it oppression.
It was in this setting that vague threats to VOA reporters in China preceded the widely-advertised Guo Wengui interview with a scheduled 3-hour slot on April 19, 2017. And then, a call to cancel, mid-interview took place.
Since then, the Agency has directed its self-righteous indignation towards the remaining members of the ‘VOA Mandarin 5,’ those in the trenches who shared the mission of VOA as a voice for the United States and the voiceless in their homeland and who are at the forefront of exposing in news reports the tactics of the CCP.
The Agency must acknowledge the consequences for the morale of those reporters and brave VOA China Service employees still in the trenches in hostile territory that the organization will abandon them at the first hint of CCP or other oppressive governmental tactics aimed at censoring and suppressing the news of today in China and elsewhere.
Instead of labeling VOA China Service employees as disobedient when they stay with the story, the Agency should have their backs.
The latest firing of two ‘VOA Mandarin 5’ experienced, award-winning and dedicated Voice of America journalists is an assault on free press made especially harmful to VOA’s and America’s image in China and everywhere else as it came only a few days after USAGM senior management led by USAGM CEO and Director John Lansing and VOA Director Amanda Bennett publicly celebrated the World Press Freedom Day.”
The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – cusib.org) is an independent, nongovernmental organization which supports free flow of uncensored news from the United States to countries without free media.
For further information, please contact Ann Noonan at (646) 251-6069 or Ted Lipien at (415) 793-1642.