A BBC journalist was kicked and beaten by Chinese police while being detained for documenting the largest rebellion in China since the Tiananmen Square demonstrations more than three decades ago.
The British national broadcaster said it was “extremely worried by the treatment” of Ed Lawrence, whose brutal detention in Shanghai was documented in frightening videos uploaded online.
“During his detention, he was beaten and kicked by the police,” the BBC claimed of Lawrence, adding he was then “held for several hours before being released.”
Lawrence noted that a Swiss journalist was momentarily imprisoned and that “at least one local national was detained after attempting to stop the cops from hitting me.”
The reporter recounted terrible situations, such as a man who appeared unconscious being hauled away, in which police took phones and cameras and compelled people to delete photographs of the protests.
The attack on Lawrence “happened while he was working as an accredited journalist,” the BBC stated, adding that it was “very worrisome that one of our journalists was attacked this way whilst carrying out his duties.”
Chinese officials claimed Lawrence was arrested “for his own good in case he caught COVID from the crowd,” the outlet carried on, adding: “We do not consider this a believable explanation.”
The British government joined in the condemnation, with Foreign Secretary James Cleverly calling Lawrence’s treatment “deeply disturbing.”
“Media freedom and freedom to protest must be respected. No country is exempt,” Cleverly tweeted. “Journalists must be able to perform their duties without fear”
Grant Shapps, the business secretary for the United Kingdom, told Sky News that the occurrence was “quite concerning.”
“There is absolutely no justification for the police beating of a journalist who was simply covering ongoing events,” he stated.
On Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, Zhao Lijian, presented a fresh justification, stating the BBC guy “did not identify himself as a journalist and didn’t voluntarily produce his press credentials.”
However, some Western journalists who described their own harrassment by police stated that they promptly disclosed their credentials.
Michael Peuker, a reporter for Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS), stated that his identification was insufficient to prevent cops from momentarily detaining him and his cameraman as they attempted to go live on air.
He stated that the police tactic was “revealing of how foreign journalists are treated in China.” Hindrances, intimidation, harassment on the ground have become commonplace.”
At least ten individuals were burned alive at an apartment complex in Urumqi, a city in the northwestern province of Xinjiang, where some residents had been trapped in their houses for the past four months. People attempting to flee the fire were impeded by barred doors and other pandemic restrictions, according to numerous reports.
The demonstration represent the greatest popular insurrection since the army crushed the student-led pro-democracy movement in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989, and the first of its sort since Xi Jinping gained power a decade ago.
During his tenure, Xi has overseen the quashing of dissent and creation of a high-tech social surveillance system that has made demonstration more difficult, and riskier.
On Sunday, though, some protestors in Shanghai briefly screamed anti-Xi slogans, which might be considered sedition punishable by imprisonment.
In response, police deployed pepper spray to disperse the protesters, and scores were arrested and transported away in police vans and buses.
China’s enormous internal security apparatus is also known for identifying persons it considers troublemakers and snatching them up later when few are watching.
Monday, the police increased their presence in places where demonstrators had taken to the streets over the weekend, including Beijing, Shanghai, and Wuhan, where COVID first appeared three years ago.
Small-scale vigils and demonstrations involving Chinese expats were reported in London, Paris, Tokyo, and Sydney.
A spokeswoman for the foreign ministry stated on Monday that allegations of widespread rage “do not reflect what actually occurred.”
“We believe that our struggle against COVID-19 will be effective with the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the cooperation and support of the Chinese people,” Zhao stated.