Next week marks the first anniversary of the Great Sichuan Earthquake, which flattened entire towns in the province on May 12th last year. To try to ensure that next week passes harmoniously, local police in Chengdu have already started rounding up foreign reporters who might want to interview parents who lost their children in the quake.
Some of the recent incidents reported by the Financial Times of reporters being detained include:
- A Finnish television crew and a Financial times reporter at the Fuxin number two primary school.
- A correspondent from the Irish Times in the town of Juyuan.
- Another FT correspondent outside a government building in Mianyang.
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China also reports that the following were detained or prevented from interviewing survivors of the quake:
- one French journalist in Duijiangyuan
- a German reporter in Yingxiu and
- a German Television crewin Shifang
The mounting tension could be due to an official blanket statement, made by the government after the quake, that the surprisingly high number of casualties resulting from collapsed schools were not the result of any corruption. Many grieving parents still believe that the deaths were due to building codes being ignored, and have been a little too adamant to get their voices heard for the local government’s taste.
Yesterday, an official release from the Xinhua News Agency numbered the student fatalities at 5,335 – a figured echoed today by the Head of the Education Department in Sichuan, Tu Wentao. It is the first time since the earthquake that an official count of the casualties was released. (h/t peanutbrittle25)
Revisit the minute by minute account of the quake here
Image by [email protected]