Two Foreign Reporters Interview Petitioners in Beijing
On the morning of October 10, two Finnish news reporters went to the reception gate of the Supreme Court of China in Beijing. Their intention was to interview petitioners who had come to file complaints. They were swamped by a flood of people who wanted their voices to be heard. According to an eyewitness, City Foreign Affairs Police were quickly summoned and ordered to remove the reporters. The removal of the reporters angered the petitioners and they confronted the police. In the end, a large number of police were summoned to control the crowd. The reporters managed to escape from police custody under the help of the petitioners.
One petitioner said, “This morning, at the Supreme Court reception gates, a large crowd of complaint bearers came to tell their story of unjustness to the Finnish reporters. The reporters set up their cameras and started taking pictures. This immediately drew the attention of the police who were ordered to remove the reporters. The crowd was already in a very emotional state and the scene quickly erupted into chaos. People started shouting what they are supposed to do? As coming to the Supreme Court to file petitions does not solve anything, and they are not allowed to talk about it to foreign reports either.”
The crowd of petitioners was so large, that at one point, it blocked traffic.
At 11:10 a.m., police from the Beijing Yoan Gates Police Station arrived at the scene. The moment they realized they were dealing with foreign reporters, they immediately called City Foreign Affairs Police (CFAP) for help. At around 11:30 a.m., CFAP officers arrived at the scene.
According to another eyewitness, some petitioners pointed at the police officers and told the reporters that the police were the source of the oppression they suffer. The reporters collected complaint documents while they continued to interview people in the crowd.
As the police talked with the reporters, many others came to place their complaint papers into the reporters' hands. The police seemed at loss of what to do.
The reporters showed the box of complaint documents to the police and told them, “Since your government is not taking them, we will take them instead. Is that against the law?” Several persons in the crowd said, “Not only would the police not take our documents, they actually arrest people with complaints!”
The police ordered the reporters to leave, which angered the crowd. The reporters supported the crowd and refused to leave. Violence erupted between police and the crowd. The reporters immediately voiced their disapproval to the police.
Another petitioner said the crowd started shouting slogans. They shouted things like “One world! One dream! Human rights! We have rights!” Then a large number of plain-clothes police arrived. The situation was nearly out of control.
Toward the end, one reporter was about to leave with thousands of complaint documents in her hands, but she was stopped by the police who claimed she was involved in leaking highly confidential national information. With the help of several complaint bearers, the reporter was able to elude the police and left with a box full of stories of injustice.
Another person at the scene said the reporters' identification and travel documents were seized by the police. After they left, the police called other police units and tried to intercept the reporters. It is unknown whether they managed to leave safely.
Today [time this article was written] is the second day of the Seventh Session of the 16th Chinese Community Party's Central Committee, and six days before the beginning of the 17th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. The entire capital city is at a heightened level of security alert.