Sat, Feb 18, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Foreign reporters attacked in China

LAND GRAB RALLIES:Two journalists — one French and one Dutch — said they were beaten up when they tried to report on the protests in Panhe

AFP, BEIJING

Two foreign journalists have been attacked and dozens of villagers detained during protests in eastern China against land grabs that have drawn comparisons with last year’s rebellion in Wukan.

Residents of Panhe, a village in Zhejiang Province, have held several protests this month over government land seizures.

The theft of community land by officials triggered riots in the southern village of Wukan in December that attracted international media attention and led to rare concessions by the provincial government.

Yesterday, state media reported that dozens of people had been detained in Panhe, as two journalists — one French and one Dutch — said they had been set upon by unidentified men while trying to report on the protests.

Villagers reached by telephone said the issue has now been resolved and that they did not want foreign media to get involved.

“They agreed with all the conditions we proposed, we realize it’s our own issue and we don’t want foreign media to get involved,” said a resident, who refused to be named.

Another villager surnamed Lu concurred, saying they could not take media interviews.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said this week that Remko Tanis, a journalist for the Netherlands Press Association, was beaten up by “a group of thugs and men who appeared to be plainclothes policemen” in Panhe.

Tanis said Panhe residents had been happy to talk to him on Wednesday.

A journalist for France 24, who asked not to be named, said he was roughed up and his Chinese assistant beaten when they attempted to get to Panhe on Thursday.

“They punched my assistant in the face many times. His nose was bleeding and he has several bruises on his forehead,” he said yesterday, adding that his camera had been smashed.

Calls made to the government and police in Cangnan County — where Panhe is located — went unanswered and the Chinese foreign ministry did not immediately comment.

The state-run Global Times newspaper, meanwhile, said “several dozens of people” who took part in the protests earlier this month had been detained, including two villagers who were taken away this week by “plainclothes agents.”

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