Police bar foreign reporters from Beijing protest site (2nd Roundup)
Feb 27, 2011, 19:56 GMT
Beijing - Police barred many foreign reporters from the site of a planned anti-government protest in Beijing Sunday amid the tightest security seen in the Chinese capital since the 2008 Olympic Games.
The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China said one video journalist from the US news agency Bloomberg was injured during the crackdown after being 'repeatedly punched and kicked in the face' by what it said were plain-clothes police officers.
His camera was confiscated, 'despite his best efforts to protect' it, the club said.
A Western diplomat told the German Press Agency dpa that the journalist had to be treated for his injuries at a hospital.
The Foreign Correspondent's Club said it was 'appalled' by the incident and called on the Chinese government to ensure the safety of all reporters.
Police also detained a dpa reporter at the Wangfujing underground station, close to one of dozens of designated sites for nationwide 'Jasmine' protests.
Two German television crews, a Spanish television reporter and at least 10 other journalists were also detained.
Scores of uniformed and plain-clothes police moved people away from the area around a McDonald's restaurant in the nearby Wangfujing shopping street where activists called for weekly protests each Sunday afternoon.
Police tape cordoned off several areas near the restaurant as officers monitored and filmed the small number of pedestrians in the normally busy shopping street.
There was no sign of any open protest in Wangfujing. A larger crowd gathered at the designated protest site near Shanghai's Peace Cinema but it was not immediately known if any one tried to protest there or in other cities.
The police told the dpa reporter and the Spanish television journalist, who was also detained at the underground station, that a special permit was needed to report from Wangfujing.
But a plain-clothes officer who appeared to be in charge of at least a dozen other officers in the station denied that foreign reporters were banned from the area.
'It's not that we don't allow it, you just have to get a permit,' the officer said.
Asked how a such permit could be obtained, the officer said only that reporters should 'contact relevant departments.'
He ordered two uniformed officers to escort the two journalists on to a train leaving the Wangfujing station.
Reporters from German broadcaster ARD told dpa that police held an ARD television crew for about four hours Sunday afternoon and told them that new rules required reporting permits for 'certain places' in Beijing.
French journalist Jordan Pouille reported via Twitter that he was detained near Wangfujing and taken to a security office where he saw seven other foreign journalists.
Hong Kong-bases broadcaster RTHK said police detained two of its photographers, while the BBC and AP also said its reporters were detained Sunday.
Some reporters did manage to enter Wangfujing as hundreds of uniformed and plain clothes officers patrolled, including dog handlers.
At about 2 pm (0600 GMT), two large cleaning trucks and two smaller cleaning trucks started spraying water on the street and the police and security guards began moving people away, pushing some of them.
The police checked identity documents and stopped anyone seen with a camera, witnesses said.
The Foreign Correspondents' Club said Saturday that many reporters had received telephone calls from the police about reporting near Wangfujing this weekend, 'ranging from friendly reminders about reporting regulations to specific warnings.'
The club said it was 'concerned about and monitoring arbitrary interpretation of the reporting regulations' by Chinese police.
Police have detained scores of well-known rights activists before and since the first calls for protests, charging at least four people with subversion according to rights groups.
The police raided hostels used by legal rights petitioners near Beijing South railway station on Friday night, taking away scores of people, according to unconfirmed reports by rights activists.
The government has also censored searches on news and micro- blogging websites for terms including 'Egypt' and 'jasmine.'
Open letters circulated online this week originated from the US- based Chinese pro-democracy website Boxun.com and urged people to gather at designated places in 23 cities from 2 pm each Sunday.
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