[Minghui 02/09/2001]

"Validate the Fa with reason, clarify the truth with wisdom, spread the Fa and offer people salvation with benevolence" (Rationality)


Washington Post: China Mulls Murder Charges for Foreign Journalists

[Editor's note: Chinese government said the video they showed on the state TV was CNN's. Is that really true? We'll see if this charge against foreign journalists is another way to shift blames to others. Also, the Tiananmen self-immolation has nothing to do with Falun Gong practitioners.]

By Philip P. Pan 

Washington Post Foreign Service

Thursday, February 8, 2001

(BEIJING, Feb. 8) Chinese police may seek homicide charges against CNN journalists and other foreign reporters who they allege knew in advance that five members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual group were going to set themselves on fire in Tiananmen Square last month, according to an article published in two state-run newspapers.

The article in the Yangcheng Evening News and the Southern Daily said police will consider charging the reporters with "abetting and assisting other people in committing suicide" if they can prove they were involved in planning the Jan. 23incident, which left one woman dead and four more people hospitalized in critical condition, including a 12-year-old girl.

It is the latest salvo in the government's escalating campaign to discredit Falun Gong as a dangerous [Chinese government's slanderous word] supported by "Western anti-China forces" and win support for its 18-month effort to crush it. Graphic footage of the self-immolations, including a shot of the young girl, her face charred black, crying out for her mother, is being broadcast regularly on state television and has stirred popular anger against the [group].

The media blitz comes as Beijing prepares to host a delegation that will evaluate its bid for the 2008 Olympic Games. Protests against China's human rights record helped sink the city's bid for the 2000 Games seven years ago, but Chinese officials say the crackdown on Falun Gong should not be used as an excuse to deny the country again.

Chinese officials have expressed frustration with foreign journalists who report on the government's repression of Falun Gong, and the article about the investigation into their role in the self-immolations could be seen as an attempt to intimidate them.

Displayed prominently on many Chinese Internet sites, the report claimed surveillance video showed six or seven reporters from CNN, the Associated Press and Agence France-Presse arriving just 10 minutes before the self-immolations took placeand positioning themselves near the [group] members.

It also said the harrowing, close-up shots of the incident broadcast on China Central Television were taken from videotape confiscated from CNN, addressing for the first time questions by overseas Falun Gong leaders about why the government happened to have a camera crew in place to film the incident.

But CNN, AP and AFP denied having any advance knowledge the self-immolations were going to take place. AP and AFP said their reporters weren't even in the square at the time.

Eason Jordan, CNN's chief news executive and president for newsgathering, said a producer and cameraman witnessed the self-immolations, but only because they were making a routine check of the square for Falun Gong protests on the day before Chinese New Year, which was marked by protests a year ago. He said the footage used in the Chinese television reports could not have come from CNN videotape because the CNN cameraman was arrested almost immediately after the incident began.

The close-up shots shown on Chinese television appear to have been taken without any interference from police. In some, the camera is clearly behind police barricades and positioned directly above the apparent [group] members. In addition, footage from overhead surveillance cameras in Tiananmen Square appears to show a man using a small handheld video camera to film the scene, not a large TV news camera.

Articles in the Chinese press, particularly those regarding sensitive subjects, are generally approved by several party officials before publication. The newspapers that published this one declined to comment, and a spokesman for the Ministry of Public Security did not respond to questions faxed to him.

(C) 2001 The Washington Post