The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China strongly condemns the violent attacks by paramilitary police on three Hong Kong journalists attempting to cover protests on Sept. 4 in Urumqi.
The journalists were reporting on protests when they were tackled by paramilitary police while running to escape tear gas fired to disperse crowds. The journalists said they were punched and kicked by the police, then detained face-down on the ground with their hands tied behind their backs for 15-20 minutes. The journalists repeatedly asked the armed police to check their State Council-issued press ID cards but the requests were ignored.
“I was beaten with a baton on my shoulder and punched and kicked on my knee and lower back,” said Lam Tsz-ho, a reporter with Hong Kong’s TVB. “My cameraman was also beaten all over his body with a baton.”
The journalists were taken to a police station where they were held for two or three hours. The crews eventually had their damaged equipment returned, but one crew’s tape was confiscated and still missing. During the same period, paramilitary police also seized an APTN camera crew’s equipment, returning it five hours later.
The incidents stand in contrast to the relatively open and safe reporting conditions foreign correspondents met while covering Urumqi riots in July.
“The beating and harassing of journalists must stop. The local authorities in Xinjiang must ensure that journalists are able to do their jobs without fear of attacks,” said FCCC President Scott McDonald.
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