A BBC reporter and his crew were reportedly attacked by local authorities while covering a story in China recently.
Journalist John Sudworth and his team visited the rural village of Xinyu in Hunan province to interview a woman whose father was allegedly beaten to death during a land dispute involving the government.
As they were making their way to the village, they were blocked by a group of men who stopped them and grabbed and smashed their cameras.
“As soon as we arrived in Yang Linghua’s village it was clear they were expecting us,” Sudworth wrote.
Most of their footage was deleted by force, those left are shown below:
The journalists then left the village but were chased and surrounded by 20 men they later described as “thugs”. Police in uniform and local government officials also arrived later. Sudworth’s group was only allowed to leave after signing a “confession” that they tried to conduct an “illegal interview” and apologize for “behavior causing a bad impact.”
“It was a very one-sided negotiation, but it at least gave us a way out – a luxury denied to the petitioners who find themselves on the receiving end of similar intimidation and abuse,” Sudworth wrote.
Thousands of Chinese people who were denied justice by the government are called “petitioners.” As the nation’s capital is preparing for the annual parliamentary sessions, petitioners from different parts of the country are also gearing up to go to Beijing and take a variety of grievances to the “State Bureau of Letters and Calls”.
Yang Linghua and her family, who are also “petitioners”, have recently been placed under house arrest to stop them from traveling to Beijing.
While he described the attack as “my first in my long reporting experience in China,” Sudworth has also experienced an encounter with assailants while reporting.
Back in November, during the local elections, the BBC reporter was approached by a group of men who blocked his path on the way to the home of a woman he was trying to interview. Sudworth and his team were shoved back to their car, forcing them to cancel the interview.