Journalists from Hong Kong said they were beaten and detained by Chinese police while attempting to cover the violent crackdown on protesters in the small fishing village of Wukan.
The South China Morning Post and Ming Pao, a liberal Hong Kong newspaper, both reported that employees of the newspapers were assaulted and subsequently detained Wednesday night while attempting to interview villagers about the protest.
The reporters were inside a villager’s house when police kicked in the door and forced them to kneel on the ground. One of the reporters was punched in the stomach, while another was slapped twice in the face, one journalist said.
Police then took the three journalists to a local police station, where they were questioned for several hours before being forced to sign a letter promising never to return to the village.
Two more reporters were stopped from entering the village and taken to the local police station where they had their phones confiscated and finger prints taken.
Villagers were protesting after their leader, Lin Zuluan, was arrested last week on corruption charges. Video of the protests shows villagers throwing rocks at police dressed in riot gear and police responding with rubber bullets and tear gas canisters.
Watch video of Wukan clashes (not independently confirmed):
The village holds a particular significance in China after protests in 2011 over an allegedly illegal land grab landed it in the global spotlight.
The Global Times, a newspaper with connections to the Chinese Communist Party, blamed “foreign media” for encouraging and planning “the organized chaos in Wukan.”