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  • Incident Reports | 20 March, 2009 (09:16)

    Reporter Barred from Tibetan Area, Staff Intimidated

    DATE: Mar. 20, 2009
    LOCATION: Sichuan Province, border of the Tibetan Autonomous Region Ganzi at Ershanlang tunnel
    TYPE OF INCIDENT: Intimidation of staff, barred from public space
    REPORTING TOPIC: Tibetan unrest
    ORGANIZATION/NATIONALITY: Marcel Grzanna, Aachener Zeitung, German

    “Officials grasped our assistant by the arm and one heavy-armed officer from the special anti-riot squad put his arm around our assistant’s neck and pulled his ear to his mouth. I protested, but I was forced to go away.”

    DESCRIPTION: When we arrived at the police-checkpoint our passports were confiscated and we were forced to wait more than an hour for 12 county officials who arrived in three cars. One was in a police uniform, eleven were plainclothes. They refused to give their names, and only said they were local representatives of the Public Security Bureau, the propaganda department, and the foreign affairs department. The officials took photos and filmed us. When we opened our car to take out some stuff they even recorded the interior of our car. Then they wanted to search our car for video tapes. We called the Foreign Ministry. The Foreign Ministry officer spoke to a colleague about the legality of a search, and phoned back to tell me the officials were only allowed to search our car for “forbidden or dangerous stuff, but not for videotapes.” The local authorities did not conduct the search. One official told us we were forbidden to travel further due to security reasons. The officials claimed there were snowstorms and a landslide on the other side of the mountain. It was nearly 20 degrees Celsius and we had blue sky. Officials grasped our assistant by the arm and one heavy-armed officer from the special anti-riot squad put his arm around our assistant’s neck and pulled his ear to his mouth. I protested, but I was forced to go away. Our assistant said the policeman recommended we immediately return to Chengdu, which we did. The next day after we checked out of our hotel in Chengdu the hotel called the assistant and accused him of bringing foreigners to their hotel. The hotel said state security had showed up and asked questions about us. Our assistant later said he was scared of bringing inconvenience to his familiy. Meanwhile, the boss of the rental company where we hired our car got a visit from officials at 2 a.m. the same night we were stopped.