Thursday, December 22, 2022

BBC journalist arrested amid China Covid protests was ‘punched and kicked’ by police

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In video footage released on social media of the apparent arrest, several police officers can be seen pinning a man to the ground before dragging him to his feet and taking him away

A BBC journalist was “punched and kicked” by police during his arrest in China amid ongoing protests against the country’s strict Covid-19 lockdown measures.

Ed Lawrence, a senior journalist and cameraman for the BBC’s China Bureau, was working as an accredited journalist covering the demonstrations when the incident happened.

Earlier I reported that a Briton believed to be Mr Lawrence had been released.

A BBC spokesman said I: “The BBC is extremely concerned at the treatment of our journalist Ed Lawrence, who was arrested and handcuffed while covering the Shanghai protests. He was held for several hours before being released. During his arrest, he was beaten and kicked by the police. This happened while he was working as an accredited journalist.

“It is very worrying that one of our journalists has been attacked in the line of duty in this way. We have received no official statement or apology from the Chinese authorities, apart from the claim by the officers who later released him that should he catch Covid from the crowd they would have arrested him for his own good. We do not think this is a credible explanation.”

In video footage released on social media of the apparent arrest, several police officers can be seen pinning a man to the ground before dragging him to his feet and taking him away.

I assumes that the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office is in contact with authorities in China.

Crowds have gathered on the streets of several major Chinese cities after the death of 10 people in a fire at a high-rise apartment building on Thursday.

Concerns that emergency response to the fire has been hampered by Covid restrictions have sparked widespread anger.

Police used pepper spray to disperse protesters in Shanghai demanding the resignation of China’s President Xi Jinping and an end to one-party rule, but hours later the protesters reconvened at the same spot.

A protester in Shanghai told AP one of his friends was beaten by police and two were pepper-sprayed.

“Everyone thinks that the Chinese are afraid to come out and protest that they don’t have courage,” he said. “Actually, that’s what I thought in my heart, too. But then when I went there I realized that the environment was such that everyone was very brave.”

Protests also took place in Beijing, the southwestern city of Chengdu, the northwestern city of Lanzhou, Xi’an and Wuhan, the site of the first Covid outbreak.

This week, China reported its fourth consecutive record daily coronavirus cases with 39,791 new Covid infections on November 26.

Three years after the start of the Covid outbreak, China has continued to try to halt the spread of Covid-19 with a “zero Covid” strategy, meaning residents across the country will be placed in lockdown for weeks.

The strict lockdowns have been blamed for restricting residents’ access to food, medicine and life-saving medical supplies.

I has reached out to the BBC for comment.

This story will be updated

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