SCMP reporter among five Hong Kong journalists detained, questioned by Chinese police in Wukan crackdown

Post reporter was conducting interview at villager’s home when two dozen men broke in and pushed him to the ground

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 September, 2016, 11:58am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 September, 2016, 6:14pm

A South China Morning Post reporter was among five Hong Kong journalists detained and questioned by local authorities in Wukan, Guangdong province, on Wednesday night.

The journalists had been interviewing villagers involved in a violent protest that saw tear gas and rubber bullets fired at residents.

The Post is highly concerned about the incident and condemn the detention of journalists.

Police step up manhunt for Wukan protesters, but governor denies crackdown

The reporter was released around 2am on Thursday morning and returned to Hong Kong unharmed.

Our reporter and two other Hong Kong journalists from another publication were invited by a resident to a villager’s house for an interview on Wednesday.

Watch: Wukan in police lockdown after clashes

Around 9.30pm, two dozen unidentified men broke into the house and pushed the Post reporter to the ground, accusing him and others of stealing.

The owner of the house was also subdued by the assailants, who did not show any documentation throughout the incident.

‘We’re scared and dare not go out’: food shortage as Wukan in police lockdown after clashes over protest leader’s arrest

The other two Hong Kong journalists later told the Post reporter that one of them was punched in the stomach by the assailants and another one slapped twice in the face.

The three journalists were then taken to a local police station where they were joined by two more Hong Kong reporters from another publication.

They were questioned separately by Lufeng government officials, who accused them of “illegal” reporting and breaching police cordon.

Watch: Chinese riot police clash with villagers after Wukan arrests

The Post journalist, who has proper journalist credentials issued by Beijing authorising him to work on the mainland, was released after questioning.

While he did not sign any document, other Hong Kong reporters were said to have been asked to sign a “confession letter” agreeing not to return. Some of them were reportedly beaten. We could not verify the information.

After the Post reporter’s release at around 2am, he was escorted by two Lufeng government officials back to the border of Hong Kong.

Symbol of China’s rural democracy: five years of struggle in Wukan land grab protests

The Hong Kong Journalists Association said in a statement issued on Thursday morning that it “strongly condemns Chinese public security officers’ violent treatment against the Hong Kong journalists”.

The association called on the Hong Kong government to look into the matter and take effective measures to protect the rights and safety of Hong Kong journalists working on the mainland.

The Hong Kong News Executives’ Association also “strongly condemns” the violence, urging relevant authorities to pay attention to and ensure journalists’ safety.

In its statement, the new executives’ association said it would write to the liaison office and the Hong Kong government to demand their attention on the incident and would also relay its concerns to the central government.