Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called for a full investigation by Chinese
authorities after a Belgian television reporter and his team were harassed and
beaten up by local officials while trying to film a report on the AIDS crisis.
Journalist Tom Van De
Weghe and his broadcast crew working for VRT, the Flemish public broadcast
network, were working in the Shanqui district of Henan province last week when
they were targeted by local officials who physically assaulted them,
confiscated material and ordered them out of the area.
together with his cameraman and his assistant, were victims of a lawless
attack," said Aidan White, IFJ
General Secretary. "The Chinese authorities must investigate the incidents and
ensure those responsible are brought to justice." The IFJ says that the attack flies in the
face of new media rules which give foreign reporters the right to talk to
The incidents occurred
as the crew visited Henan
for a report on AIDS, in connection with World Aids Day. Some one million
patients in the region contracted HIV infection by selling their own
Van De Weghe and his
crew had set up appointments with some NGOs that take care of Aids orphans.
When they arrived they found the local NGO workers were formally forbidden to
speak to them and the director of an orphanage
they planned to visit was placed under house arrest.
" Nevertheless some
NGO workers did cooperate," said Van De Weghe, "They took care of arranging
transportation and a guide, a woman who herself is an AIDS patient."
However, the crew was
shadowed during the visit by two armoured vans. After an interview with an AIDS
patient, they were stopped on the road. Ten men appeared and surrounded their
car demanding that they hand over the interview tape. They then opened the boot
and took 10 empty tapes.
They told the crew who
protested that they were acting outside the law: ‘Here in Henan
we are the law and we will break every bone in your body if you stay in Henan.' Later on
their way to the airport they were attacked by the same group. Van De Weghe was
punched in the head, his cameraman hit in the face and his assistant suffered
blows to the chest. Their luggage was ransacked and personal cash and some
camera equipment stolen. The attackers then ordered the driver to take them to
the airport where they caught a flight to Beijing.
For more information contact
the IFJ at +32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120