Journalists in China call for access to Tibetan areas

Taking strong exception to the restrictions imposed on them to enter Tibet by the Chinese government, the foreign journalists working in China have called for unfettered access to the Tibetan areas to report on self-immolation incidents in Tibet.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China (FCCC) in a statement made last week (2 February) said: “The Chinese authorities have set up a massive security cordon in an attempt to prevent journalists from entering Tibetan areas in Western Sichuan Province where major unrest – including killings and self-immolations – has been reported.

“The FCCC considers this a clear violation of China’s regulations governing foreign reporters, which allow them to travel freely and to interview anyone prepared to be interviewed.

“Correspondents attempting to travel to the region in question have faced major obstacles, including detention by the police and roadblocks at which they have been stopped and turned back by officials who have then forcibly escorted them back to Chengdu. “Bad roads” and “weather” are being used as excuses for denying correspondents entry to the area.

“One team reported that their car was suspiciously rammed by another vehicle. Reporters have been followed, questioned for hours, asked to write confessions and had their material confiscated.

“Police have been asking to inspect not only the documents that foreign reporters are normally required to carry with them – their passports and press cards – but also the small pink and yellow slips of paper entitled “Registration Form of Temporary Residence”. We advise members to carry these documents in their passports to help avoid being detained.

“Journalists are merely trying to do their job and independently confirm the truth of reports from the area. We call on the Chinese government to recognize our purely professional motivation and to abide by its own regulations that allow us to enter the areas in question,” the statement noted.

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