IFJ Condemns Assaults on Journalists in Eastern China

 

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns a series of violent attacks against journalists

by unidentified thugs in the village

of Panhe, in China’s eastern Zhejiang Province.

 

On February 15 and 16, Remko

Tanis, correspondent for RTL Nieuws, and Baptiste

Fallevoz and his assistant Jack Zhang, journalists for France 24, were physically

assaulted, threatened and their research materials stolen by unidentified

people in Panhe village, Zhejiang Province.

 

According to an internal

alert issued by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China, and reports on

foreign news websites, Remko Tanis was intercepted by a group of thugs while he

was interviewing a villager who was complaining of illegal land deals by local

officials in Panhe. Tanis

was then physically assaulted by the thugs and forcibly pushed into a car by

two officers from the local branch of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

 

While being escorted to

the nearby town of Longang by the officers, Tanis’ car was suddenly blocked, all the occupants were

pulled out from the car and Tanis

was beaten a second time, with his bag being taken away by a group of

unidentified people. Another car from the Foreign Affairs Office arrived later,

into which Tanis

and his colleagues were forcibly taken and removed back to a hotel in Longang. When

his bag was returned to him, Tanis

discovered that his note book, memory card and documents given to him by the

villager were missing.

 

“Their [local government

officials] objective is to get you out of their territory and not write

anything down, but of course that is the opposite of what actually happens”, Tanis told Radio

Netherlands Worldwide.

 

Another two journalists, Baptiste Fallevoz and Jack Zhang of France 24, experienced similar violence

the next day in the same village. According to a report onshanghaiist.comthey werefollowed by a car while on their way to Panhe

village. Upon arrival in Pange, they were immediately surrounded by around 20-30 plainclothes thugs. Zhang was beaten and his camera smashed. Zhang sustained injuries to his head in

the attack.

 

On February 17, the

website for the propaganda department of Panhe’s Cangnan county, Wenzhou city, Zhejiang

province, reported that two drivers had quarrelled on February 16, without any

mention that journalists were brutally beaten on two occasions. It also

reported that Baptiste Fallevoz had agreed to settle the case and

had accepted compensation.

 

Since February 1, 2012,

three separate protests have been organized by the villagers of Panhe. Protests

have been sparked by allegations of illegal land deals being carried out by

local officials with private developer, without local villagers being informed

or provided with compensation. During the protests, three villagers were

arrested by police and charged with damaging public property.

 

According to the Article 17 of China’s Regulations on Reporting Activities in China by Foreign Journalists,

foreign journalists are free to interview all individuals in China once they

have obtained the interviewee’s consent.

  

“The IFJ is deeply

concerned by the brutal attacks on journalists in Panhe village, and the

failure of Chinese authorities to report on and properly investigate these

assaults”, IFJ Asia-Pacific office

said.

 

“Chinese authorities’

inaction in response to these attacks effectively condones the assault and

intimidation of journalists.

 

The IFJ urges the Chinese

Premier Wen Jiaobo to direct the Public Security Bureau of China to open an investigation into

the assaults on journalists in Panhe village.

 

The IFJ also urges Premier Wen to honour his promises of improved press

freedom, and demand the Public Security Bureau immediately ensure its officers

adhere to the regulations protecting the rights of journalists.”

     

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +61 2 9333 0950 

 

The IFJ

represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

 

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the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

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