Reporters Without Borders is appalled by recent threats and violence against journalists. Li Haitao (李海涛) and Lei Kai (李海涛), two reporters with business news TV station Hunan Jingshi, were threatened and then attacked by police in Linwu district, in the south-central province of Hunan, on 16 July.
The same day, journalists with Nanguo Dushi Bao and Hainan TV were roughed up and their equipment was damaged by the employees of a company in the far-south province of Hainan when they tried to investigate a case of alleged fraud.
“The fact that some of these recent acts of violence against journalists were by police officers, who are supposed to enforce law and order, is an additional source of concern,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The local authorities, who have a duty to protect the right to report news and information, must arrest those responsible and bring them to justice.”
The incident in Hunan province occurred at around 11 pm. The two Hunan Jingshi reporters suddenly found themselves surrounded by five or six policemen when they went to cover a protests prompted by the death of a peasant who had been beaten by members of a local government agency (chennguan).
According to Beijing News, the policemen shouted: “Take no photos, or if you take any, you will die here.” Then they beat the journalists with their batons, inflicting a serious leg injury on Li Haitao. Their car and their mobile phones were damaged and one of their phones was seized by the police.
Earlier the same day in Hainan province, the Nanguo Dushi Bao and Hainan TV reporters were forcibly expelled from the headquarters of Yunzhi Information Technology, a privately-owned company, when they tried unsuccessfully to interview representatives about a swindle allegedly involving the company.
One of Yunzhi’s managers snatched the Hainan TV reporter’s camera, pushed him to the ground and punched him. Nanguo Dushi Bao reported that when one of its reporters tried to leave hiw office to call the police, an employee forcibly prevented him.
China is ranked 173rd out of 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.
Photo : AFP