Wukan protests: police deny violence against Hong Kong journalists in Chinese village crackdown — But nobody believes Beijing’s account

Authorities claim law enforcement practices carried out in a ‘civilised’ manner

By Danny Lee and Nectar Gan
South China Morning Post

Sunday, September 18, 2016, 2:27am

Police authorities in Guangdong have denied officers were violent towards five Hong Kong journalists detained in Wukan last week, claiming they carried out law ­enforcement duties in a “civilised” manner.

 Police can be seen massed in the background as Wukan villagers take a rest. SCMP photo

 Villagers confront a phalanx of security in Wukan earlier this week. Photo: SCMP Pictures

Addressing the incident for the first time, the public security ­bureau of Lufeng, which administers the coastal village, said media reports that police had “slapped, punched and pushed journalists to the ground” were “inconsistent with the facts”, the China News Service reported on Saturday.

The police had “adhered to rational, calm, civilised and standard law enforcement practices when handling the case,” the authorities said.

Three Hong Kong journalists, including a South China Morning Post reporter, were assaulted by two dozen unidentified men who broke into a house where they were interviewing a villager in Wukan on Wednesday night. The journalists were there to report on violent clashes between villagers and riot police on Tuesday, in which tear gas and rubber bullets were fired at residents.

According to police, members of the “village security team” raided the home after receiving reports from two villagers who saw three unidentified men – the Hong Kong journalists – entering the house.

 One Wukan villager who was injured as locals attempted to dodge the police earlier this week. Photo: SCMP Pictures

Upon their arrival, the village security team started “pushing and shoving” the journalists before taking them to the Lufeng public security bureau, police said. Local officials accused five Hong Kong journalists in total of “illegal” reporting.

Police said four of the five journalists did not have press badges issued by the All-China Journalists Association. The SCMP reporter had a badge, but had not “gone through relevant procedures according to the rules”, the police said, without specifying what procedures or rules.

The information office of the Lufeng municipal government said all five Hong Kong journalists “violated relevant regulations on reporting in the mainland,” the CNS reported.

“For Hong Kong and Macau journalists to report in the mainland, they need to obtain press badges issued by the All-China Journalists Association from the liaison offices in Hong Kong or Macau, and obey the country’s laws, regulations and rules to do objective and fair reporting,” the information office said.

Hong Kong Journalists Association chairwoman Sham Yee-lan rejected the official government response.

“I think the police are liars. I am so disappointed in their reaction.I believe our journalists,” Sham said.

The SAR government has expressed concern about the case. A government spokesman called for Hong Kong journalists reporting on the mainland to be respected.

The coastal village has been the epicentre of villager-police clashes since Tuesday after uproar over the imprisonment of the democratically elected village chief Lin Zuluan for 37 months on corruption charges earlier this month. Wukan came to prominence five years ago after villagers protested a land-grab by officials and developers. The initial unrest ended after officials stepped down and villagers elected Lin as their new leader.

Around 100 people, including members of pan-democratic parties, held a candlelight vigil outside the Liaison Office on Saturday night in support of the residents of Wukan and to protest the attacks on Hong Kong reporters.

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