BBC journalists were roughed up by local government “thugs” and compelled to sign a confession after trying to interview a Chinese woman seeking to petition the Government over an alleged miscarriage of justice.
Yang Linghua claims her father was beaten to death in a land dispute and wants to petition the annual Chinese parliamentary session for justice.
Last night the BBC showed footage of correspondent John Sudworth and his crew being roughed up outside the women’s house and prevented from meeting them.
Sudworth had written about how the annual meeting of the parliament is a magnet for petitioners with personal grievances, but the Beijing authorities seem intent on keeping them away.
“It would rather keep this ragged army of the dispossessed away from its carefully choreographed piece of political theatre and so provincial officials the length and breadth of the land, are tasked with stopping petitioners making the journey.”
He added: “As soon as we arrived in Yang Linghua’s village it was clear they were expecting us.
“The road to her house was blocked by a large group of people and, within a few minutes, they’d assaulted us and smashed all of our cameras.”
“After we left the village, we were chased down and had our car surrounded by a group of about 20 thugs.
“They were then joined by some uniformed police officers and two officials from the local foreign affairs office, and under the threat of further violence, we were made to delete some of our footage and forced to sign the confession.”
He said that petitioner Yang Linghua was then placed under apparent house arrest and has now “disappeared”.