VRT journalist detained in China for quake reports

12th June 2008, Comments 0 comments

The VRT correspondent Tom Van de Weghe was detained for two hours when he tried to enter two villages hit by the earthquake.

12 June 2008

BELGIUM - Journalist Tom Van de Weghe of the Flemish Public Broadcaster VRT was detained by the Chinese police when he was trying to make a report in the province of Sichuan, hard-hit by the earthquake in May.

Tom Van de Weghe wanted to return to the villages of Juyan and Dujiangyan, both devastated by the earthquake.

The police did not allow any journalists visit the villages, even those who had been given a special press card by the authorities. The VRT correspondent was detained and held for two hours.

"There seems to be a huge round-up of press people. Road blocks have been set up at all access roads and all vehicles are being stopped and searched by the police and the army.

"The repression is at least as bad as just after the Tibet crisis: I was also detained then on my way to film at a Tibetan monastery," says Tom Van de Weghe.

"The police repression now has everything to do with the growing protest from angry parents who lost their children when their school buildings collapsed. They are accusing government employees of corruption because many schools were apparently poorly constructed and collapsed easily."

In some areas the schools were the only buildings to have collapsed in the earthquake, with all the buildings around them left standing. The parents want justice to be done and are demanding an investigation.

Many parents are now being forced to stay at home. "It looks as if these parents have not only lost their children, but also their voice," says the VRT correspondent.

[flandersnews.be / Expatica]
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