Chinese Journalist Beaten While Investigating Teachers’ Deaths, 3 Police Detained
This story has been updated to reflect latest developments.
Three police officers have been detained after a Chinese journalist was assaulted while investigating the deaths of two teachers in the southwestern Guizhou province on Tuesday.
Li Xiancheng, a journalist at Chinese media outlet Jimu News, was beaten by three men while on his way to the river in Zhijin County where two teachers drowned in April, according to a statement issued by the Bijie municipal government Thursday morning. Li was followed by the three men in a vehicle who forced him to stop.
The attackers have been identified as the deputy director of the Machang police station in Zhijin county surnamed Xiong, and two auxiliary officers from the same police station surnamed Tao and Li. Bijie municipal authorities have stripped all three men of their positions and issued 20-day administrative detentions for Xiong and Tao, and a 15-day administrative detention for Li.
The deputy secretary of Machang's village party committee, surnamed Peng, has also been dismissed.
The municipal government apologized to the journalist, the media, and the public in its statement.
“This incident has taught us profound lessons, exposing big problems such as a small number of public officials' indifference to the rule of law, seriously hurting friends in the media, and causing adverse social impact," the statement said.
The 28-year-old journalist suffered cuts to the face and arms, and a bruised eye, according to a hospital report shared with local media. He was beaten for more than a minute and had his glasses and smartphone broken, local media reported, citing a WeChat post by Li’s manager at Jimu News.
On April 13, two teachers from Zhijin County — 38-year-old man Li Dijun and 26-year-old woman Xu Qian — died after a nearby hydropower station reportedly released a surge of water into the river where they and four other teachers were at the time.
According to local reports, family members of the deceased teachers say that they were sent to the river by school leaders to collect pebbles and pine cones to decorate their campuses, but county officials deny this.
Journalists’ rights to interview are protected by law, a representative of Jimu News said to local media.
Jimu News is one of China’s leading digital media outlets operated by state-backed Hubei Daily Media Group.
Editor: Vincent Chow.
(Header image: A photo shows the reporter's broken glasses. From Weibo)