Police Assault Reporters at Fire Scene

August 14, 2006 12:00 am Last Updated: August 14, 2006 12:00 am

Chinese police and security guards attacked two reporters who were trying to cover a fire, bruising the female reporter and smashing the male photographer's camera.

Photographer Yang Yingbo and reporter Na Ying from the Yunnan Information Daily were assigned to cover a fire at a sponge factory near Kunming City, Yunnan Province, China, which caused eight deaths and two injuries.

As Na and Yang approached the scene they were immediately surrounded by a crowd of ten uniformed police and private security guards.

Yang displayed his press pass, but the officers ignored it, pushing Yang away and smashing his $6000 camera. The officers then grabbed Na and dragged her forcibly from the area, leaving several bruises on her arms.

There were no barriers nor was the area designated as restricted.

Ms. Na said: “At that moment, I felt extremely angry and frightened. I was surrounded by the police and security guards. They dragged me over 10 meters out of the area. Then I saw that my colleague's camera was also broken. The villagers on the scene all said that the police were too brutal.”

One witness said that when other news reporters began filming the assault, another group of people came to block their view and confiscated their video camera. Even a reporter's pen was taken.

Second Group of Reporters Threatened

After receiving a call for help from the two reporters, Yunnan Information Daily sent three more reporters to the scene.

When the reporters arrived at the village's wholesale market, before reaching the scene, they were blocked by a number of security guards with badges that read “Kunming Junqi Commerce and Trading Co., Ltd.”

The security guards pushed the reporters away saying, “Are you looking to die? If you come any farther, we'll break your camera too!”

Fan Xintao, director of photography at the Yunnan Information Daily, confirmed that Na Ying was injured and that a camera had been destroyed, and that he had been denied access to the two reporters.

Na said that as a woman, she felt humiliated when picked up and dragged by several policemen. Her bruises were still visible several hours later.