The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is disturbed to learn of an attack on foreign journalists who attempted to interview a prominent activist and lawyer in China’s east.
CNN journalists Stan Grant and Steven Jiang reported on February 16 that guards threw stones and pushed and shoved them after ordering them away from the entrance to Dongshigu Village, Shandong Province, where human rights activist Chen Guangcheng and his wife are under house arrest.
“I demanded to know the reason we were barred from the village…the ‘big guy’ kept shoving Stan away from the checkpoint, as his partner knocked [fellow journalist] Brad's camera over,” Jiang reported on CNN.com.
“When we tried to walk toward the village again, the two guards picked up rocks - large and small - from the ground and hurled them at us and the car, as they yelled ‘get out’ and ‘no filming’.
“Some of the rocks fell dangerously close to us.”
Chen Guangcheng, a prominent blind activist and lawyer was charged with “damaging property and organising a mob to disturb traffic” and served his full sentence of four years and three months before he was released on September 9, 2010.
Since his release, Chen and his wife have been denied contact with the outside world against their wishes. A number of non-mainland journalists have been prevented by local authorities from contacting Chen despite repeated attempts to do so. The couples’ telephones were shut down and they are now under house arrest.
Chen and his wife were reportedly beaten after a video showing his house arrest was posted on YouTube last week by US-based rights group China Aid.
“It is disturbing that China’s authorities are using violent tactics to attempt to block journalists from legitimately interviewing Chen Guancheng,” IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.
“The IFJ calls for access to the activist to be restored immediately.
“It is also disgraceful that Chen Guangcheng remains under house arrest after serving a harsh sentence on trumped-up charges – he must be allowed freedom of movement and freedom of association.”
The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China warned on Wednesday that "correspondents should be careful if they attempt to enter the village of activist Chen Guangcheng in Shandong province”, the BBC reported.
The IFJ delivered an open letter to Chinese authorities protesting the restrictions on foreign media access to Chen and Liu Xia, the wife of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo in October 2010.
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