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  • Incident Reports | 15 September, 2015 (13:23)

    Police interfere with reporters, break equipment, force journalists to delete footage in Kashgar

    Mid-September, 2015
    John Sudworth, BBC

    A team of BBC journalists who traveled to Xinjiang ahead of George Osborne’s visit encountered interference. Following is a condensed version of John Sudworth’s published report: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-34332833

    “We flew to Kashgar, picked up a rental car at the airport and drove south and then east out of the city. In a few hours we’d made it to the county of Yarkand, slipping unnoticed on the back roads past the checkpoints. Down a quiet lane, at the edge of a tiny hamlet, we stopped at one house and struck up a conversation with the occupants, all ethnic Uighurs. One young man, a construction worker, agreed to be interviewed as long as we disguised his identity. Just minutes after our interview was over, as we were driving away, our car was pulled over by village officials and we were handed over to the local government who kept us for hours in their office before escorting us all the way back to our hotel in Kashgar.

    On our final day in Kashgar, finding ourselves once again in the custody of the Chinese police, we submitted to their enforced guided tour. They took us to the old city.  The police agreed that we could film at the city’s old Id Kah mosque – under their guidance. I was keen to ask worshippers what they thought of the heavy restrictions placed on their faith in response to the perceived threat of growing Islamic radicalization. But as prayers finished our minders told us that the permission to speak to ordinary people had been withdrawn. I replied that we were going to interview people regardless, and we headed off into the square where we were able to record a few comments from a curious, but nervous group of Uighur men. “We’re just ordinary people,” one man told me in answer to my question about whether the restrictions were fair. “We have no rights”.

    Suddenly, one of our police escorts heaved into view, arms flailing and pushing the small crowd that had gathered out of the way. As our camera turned to film him, he lunged in fury, violently grabbing it and trying to rip it from its shoulder strap, breaking off the microphone as he did so. After the crowd dispersed and his anger subsided he spent the next hour or so searching our video files, forcing us to delete the footage of the incident.”