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IFJ concerned about troubling series of assaults on journalists

(IFJ/IFEX) - 2 September 2010 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is disturbed by the violent behaviour of a group of security officers who assaulted journalists when they were reporting in southern China.

Zhang Peng and Wu Shaomin, journalists of the Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper, went to Humen Town, Dongguan, to investigate a complaint about a quarrel in the early hours of August 31 between security officers and drivers who may have breached parking rules, according to the newspaper's report. When they tried to take photos of the incident they were blocked by a security officer.

Zhang then tried to use his cell phone to capture images, but he was intercepted by a group of four security guards who snatched the phone. Zhang went to a police car but one of the guards chased him and assaulted him, cutting his temple and punching his head and neck.

"The IFJ is deeply concerned by this case, which is similar to others that have occurred in the past two months in China," IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.

"We urge China's General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) to promote the right of journalists to freely report the news and urge the police to conduct a speedy and fair investigation into this harassment."

GAPP made a rare statement in August which confirmed journalists and media organisations have the right to interview, publish, criticise and supervise issues that are in the public interest.

The IFJ hopes consistent action on the ground in China from the authorities will see these principles successfully upheld.

A Shenzhen-based journalist, Chen Xiaoying, of the China Times, was punched in the head by an unidentified man on July 29. In Shanghai on July 30, four people broke into the office of National Business Daily and harassed staff after the newspaper reported allegations about products of the shampoo manufacturer Bawang Group. The Economic Observer's Qiu Ziming discovered his name on an online "wanted persons" list of the local security bureau on July 23, after he published three articles on Zhejiang Kan Specialties Material Corporation's suspected involvement in stock exchange breaches.

Lin Feng, a journalist of Southeast Express, was assaulted by a group of unidentified people on July 8 when he was reporting on the collapse of a building in a village of Cangshan District, Fuzhou, Fujian province. Chen Wenguang, of Zhejiang TV, suffered stomach injuries and his camera was damaged in an assault by an official of Lu Bu village, in Liandu District, on July 16, following his request to interview village vice-officer Zeng Guofeng regarding the construction of a resort without official approval.

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