Wednesday, May 17, 2006

WHO URGED NOT TO DISCRIMINATE AGAINST TAIWAN JOURNALISTS

2006-05-17 by P.C. Tang and Sofia Wu

Brussels, May 17 (CNA) The EP-Taiwan Friendship Group, a Taiwan-friendly panel in the European Parliament (EP), has asked the World Health Organization (WHO) not to discriminate against Taiwan journalists for political reasons, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Dr. Georg Jarzembowski, chairman of the EP-Taiwan Friendship Group, sent a letter to WHO Deputy Secretary-General Denis Aitken a day earlier urging the world health regulatory body not to ban Taiwan journalists from covering the news about the forthcoming annual conference of the World Health Assembly (WHA) -- the WHO's governing arm, the spokesman said.

The 2006 world Health Assembly is scheduled for May 22-27 in Geneva. Taiwan journalists have been barred from covering the WHA meeting since 2004 when the United Nations, under pressure from China, began to stipulate that only newsmen with passports or identification cards of U.N. member states or WHA observer states are eligible to enter the WHA conference hall for news coverage. Taiwan is neither a U.N. member nor a WHA observer simply because of Beijing's opposition.

Jarzembowski said in his letter that he aligns with the International Federation of Journalists in opposing the WHO's ban on Taiwan journalists from covering WHA news.

The International Federation of Journalists reiterated its opposition to the WHO's embargo against Taiwan journalists earlier this month.

Noting that the WHA is one of the world's most important health-related conferences, Jarzembowski said it should be open to all journalists, including those from Taiwan. At the conclusion of his letter, Jarzembowski urged Aitken to give a goodwill response to the European Parliament's stance on the issue. The EP is the European Union's legislative arm.

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