Thursday, March 12, 2009

China curbing foreign media in Tibet: RSW

Reporters Without Borders expressed its outrage at China for its treatment of foreign journalists visiting Tibet. The Paris based organization working for freedom of press worldwide said although the regulations inherited from the Olympic Games guarantee freedom of movement, at least 14 foreign reporters have been arrested and in many cases expelled from Tibetan regions in recent weeks.
“With the world’s eyes turned towards Tibet because of today’s 50th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising, the Chinese security forces have gone to extraordinary lengths to prevent any foreigners, especially journalists, from witnessing the situation there.”
RWB said journalists have been prevented from working in the three nearby provinces of Gansu, Sichuan and Qinghai. Beniamino Natale of the Italian news agency ANSA was briefly arrested in Qinghai province after visiting a monastery there.
Police escorted three Agence France-Presse journalists away from La Jia monastery in Qinghai province yesterday. “This is not a public place, you cannot be here,” a police officer told them, according to RWBA crew from the Spanish television station TVE was arrested in Sichuan province and their videotapes were destroyed.
A woman journalist with the Finnish TV station FBC was followed and detained several times in Qinghai, while her driver was threatened by the police.
The Associated Press has meanwhile said its reporters were detained and questioned twice in the past few weeks in Tibetan regions. A France 24 TV crew was briefly detained today by police while in the Tibetan quarter of the Sichuan capital Chengdu. Police told reporter Sébastien Le Belzic that he needed to obtain permission from the local office of the foreign affairs ministry before filming, as was the case before the Olympic Games.All foreigners are being prevented from entering Chengdu’s Tibetan quarter.
The Foreign Correspondents Club of China (FCCC) said: “These detentions must stop (…) By locking up and blocking reporters, the security forces raise suspicions about their actions.”
An FCCC representative told Reporters Without Borders, “Tibetans who speak to foreign correspondents or assist them, for example as a driver, risk being detained and interrogated by authorities. Under these conditions it is extremely difficult to get accurate information, much less an informed overview of what is happening in Tibetan communities on the 50th anniversary of the failed uprising.”

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