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China 12 May 2006

Five journalists attacked while covering coal mine accident

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the physical attacks which five Chinese journalists sustained at the hands of mine employees and security guards on 7 and 8 May while trying to cover an accident in the Meihe coal mine in the northeastern province of Jilin.

“As well as having to cope with government censorship, China’s journalists are increasingly subject to physical violence from police, security guards and businessmen’s hired thugs,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“In order to cover the dramatic situation in China’s mines, where nearly 5,000 workers die in accidents every year, journalists must go to the scene and talk to victims, and we therefore call on the national and provincial authorities to guarantee their access to the mines,” the press freedom organisation added.

Chinese legislation allows journalists to cover matters of “general interest” such as mine disasters. And Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has on several occasions condemned the working conditions of Chinese miners.

The EastSouthWestNorth blog reported that mine employees and guards attacked five journalists in the course of denying them access to the mine and hospital at Meihe. Four miners were killed in the accident which the media were trying to cover.

The journalists involved work for three daily newspapers, Chengshi Wanbao (City Evening News), Changchun Wanbao (Changchun Evening News) and Xinwenhua Bao (New Culture News), and the Jilin public TV station Jilin Dianshitai.

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