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  • Incident Reports | 2 April, 2009 (08:31)

    German Barred From Reporting On Sichuan Quake Aftermath

    LOCATION: Sichuan Province, Yingxiu
    TYPE OF INCIDENT: Barred from public space
    TOPIC: Sichuan earthquake
    NATIONALITY/ORGANIZATION: German

    QUOTE: “Before arriving in Yingxiu I had tried to obtain permission by calling the Sichuan Province waiban foreign affairs office, the Chengdu waiban and the Aba local waiban repeatedly over several days. Nobody had mentioned the need to obtain permission. They had only informed me that the special permit (te qu zheng) for the disaster area was not being issued anymore.”

    DESCRIPTION: I was talking to relatives of victims of the Sichuan earthquake schools at the public cemetery (gong mu) above the ruins of Yingxiu. The cemetary was full of Chinese journalists taking photos and relatives mourning. I was a silent bystander until some relatives approached me and insisted on telling me their story. I was apprehended by one plainclothes official and one policeman while talking to relatives of schoolteachers and children who died in Yingxiu elementary school on May 12, 2008. I was told that I had no right to be in Yingxiu and that I should have obtained permission before coming. I was then led away from the public cemetery, made to fill out a form to “register,” and told to leave Yingxiu immediately. A plainclothes agent escorted me to the car and also took down the driver’s details. Throughout the incident the official remained very polite and friendly, and I did as I was told without resistance. Before arriving in Yingxiu I had tried to obtain permission by calling the Sichuan Province waiban foreign affairs office, the Chengdu waiban and the Aba local waiban repeatedly over several days. Nobody had mentioned the need to obtain permission. They had only informed me that the special permit (te qu zheng) for the disaster area was not being issued anymore.