Posted by: Dexter Roberts on August 14, 2008
Even as new Olympics records are set and an overall spirit of festivity prevails in Beijing, there is more bad news for some journalists and activists. A British journalist covering a Tibetan independence protest just outside the Olympics venues was roughed up yesterday. According to the Foreign Correspondents Club of China, the journalist, John Ray of Independent Television News, “was pinned down by police, dragged along the floor and pushed into a police van. The authorities also confiscated his equipment, pulled off his shoes, filmed him and accused him of trying to unfurl a Tibetan flag, he said. He denies the accusation, saying he was only trying to cover the protest.” All told there have been five incidents blocking foreign reporters from reporting since August 7th, including also Associated Press and Scandinavian journalists.
Meanwhile, Chinese activists have been harassed and denied the right to hold protests according to Human Rights Watch—despite the creation of designated protest zones, as announced earlier by the Beijing Organizing Committee for Olympic Games. On July 23, BOCOG security director Liu Shaowu told reporters there would be three protest zones in Beijing parks, saying: “People or protesters who want to express their personal opinions can go to do so” as is “common practice in other countries.”