Journalists Group Appeals to China

By: AP
By: AP

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- An international journalists group appealed to Chinese authorities Monday to stop what it called interference with news coverage leading up to the Beijing Olympics.

The group said foreign journalists have been threatened for reporting on the disturbances during the torch relay around the world and the unrest in Tibet.

The International Federation of Journalists began a four-day visit to China to make its case in person. The Brussels-based group is to meet with Chinese government and media officials as well as with foreign correspondents.

"In the last few weeks, the political heat has been turned up over Tibet and the Olympics and journalists have found themselves in the crossfire," said Aidan White, general secretary and leader of the 10-member mission.

The group said in a statement that some foreign journalists "have found themselves threatened in the wake of Chinese anger over foreign media coverage of disturbances in Tibet and the Olympic torch rally."

"Our aim will be to get China to deliver on its promises of ending repression of journalists in the country and to open itself to independent media coverage around the Games."

There was no immediate comment to the allegations by China's government Tuesday morning. But in a recent statement, the government said it tries to protect the foreign press inside China.

"I would like to stress here the Chinese government would like to continue to protect the lawful rights and interests of the foreign journalists according to law," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said last week.

The IFJ said its mission will discuss with the Beijing Olympic Committee how to ensure journalists can be protected and exercise the right to report without interference during the Games.

Protests by Buddhist monks in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, began March 10 to mark the failed 1959 uprising during which the Dalai Lama - their spiritual leader - fled to India.

The demonstrations turned violent four days later. China says 22 people died, many in arson attacks, and more than 1,000 were detained. The Dalai Lama's government-in-exile in India says more than 140 people were killed across a large swath of western China.

The riots were followed by scuffles and other incidents during Olympic torch events in Paris, London and other cities.

The IFJ mission is made up of representatives of journalist groups from Europe, Africa, Australia and Asia. The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 120 countries.

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