Beijing Games 2008 - Two Japanese reporters beaten by police in Xinjiang, new reporting restrictions imposed in Beijing



    MONTREAL, Aug. 5 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders condemns the
beating which two Japanese reporters received from Chinese police yesterday.
The press freedom organisation also deplores the government's decision to
break its promise to allow the foreign news media to report freely in
Beijing's Tiananmen Square.
    "These latest incidents are indicative of the hostility displayed by many
members of the Chinese security forces, an hostility fueled in recent months
by official campaigns against the foreign media," Reporters Without Borders
said. "The authorities have apologized for the beating but they must also
punish those responsible."
    The organisation added: "We fear that this inability to tolerate foreign
reporters will result in more incidents, for which the IOC will share the
blame because it took so long to request guarantees for the safety of the
media."
    Masami Kawakita, a photographer with the daily Chunichi Shimbun, and
Shinji Katsuta, a reporter with Nippon Television Network, were arrested by
paramilitary police in Kashgar, in the northwestern province of Xinjiang, and
were taken to an official hotel, where they were beaten and their equipment
was broken. One of the journalists was pinned to the ground while a policeman
squeezed his head under his boot. They were released two hours later with
minor injuries.
    Sixteen police officers were killed earlier yesterday in Kashgar in an
attack with a explosives which the authorities blamed on a radical Uyghur
group.
    The two journalists' employers condemn the beatings, while the Japanese
government said it would make an official protest. The Xinhua government news
agency said the authorities had apologized.
    The Beijing municipal government meanwhile announced today that the
foreign news media will have to apply 24 hours in advance in order to carry
out interviews on Beijing's Tiananmen Square. This is a regrettable step
backwards that violates both the January 2007 rules lifting reporting
restrictions on the foreign media, and the promises made by the organisers of
the Beijing games that the foreign media would be able to broadcast live from
the square.
    The new restriction was announced in the form of a notice posted on the
Beijing government website saying: "To maintain a good order of reporting
activities at the square, Chinese and foreign journalists are advised to make
telephone appointments with the Administration Committee of Tiananmen Area."
    Police yesterday dispersed a group of Beijing families near the square
when they tried to talk to foreign journalists about the inadequate
compensation they had received after being evicted from their homes to make
way for Olympic installations.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Executive Director,
Reporters Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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