China has banned a journalist who exposed the deaths of tens of millions of his fellow citizens in the Great Famine from leaving the country to accept a prestigious prize for his work, The Guardian reported.
Harvard University awarded Yang Jisheng — a retired correspondent from Xinhua, the official news agency — the Louis M. Lyons Award in December for his “ambitious and fearless reporting” on one of the 20th century’s deadliest man-made catastrophes.
The prize, which Yang had hoped to collect at a ceremony in Cambridge, Massachusetts, next month, was in recognition of his 2008 book Tombstone.
The 1,200-page work – considered the most authoritative account of a tragedy that Communist Party leaders still try to conceal – meticulously documents the horrific toll of the 1958-1961 famine, in which the author estimates at least 36 million lives were lost, including that of his own father.
Announcing its decision to honor Yang last year, Harvard said it hoped to recognize courageous and dedicated journalists who were battling to “document the dark and difficult struggles of humankind”.
Xinhua has forbidden Yang, 75, from travelling to the United States to collect the award, The Guardian said.
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