Monday, February 06, 2006

Newspaper Editor Died, Victim of Police Brutality

Mr. Wu Xianghu 吴湘湖 of 'Taizhou Evening' died of liver and kidney failure in hospital on Feb 2nd, 2006 at age 46. He had stayed in hospital after being beaten by dozens of police officers when they stormed his office on Oct 20th, 2005. Mr. Wu is survived by his wife and a twelve years old son.

Pictures show the cops captured Mr. Wu from the news agency he worked for, and was about to take him away with a patrol car. Although police brutality is a common problem around the world, very rarely has a police force attacked a news agency in a dense urban area in daytime where hundreds of cameras are ready to click. Actually the building complex being asaulted is shared by a number of news agencies.

Unhappy with a news report exposing police corruption on Oct 19th, 2005, Jiaojiang District traffic police chief Mr. Li Xiaoguo 李小国 went to the news agency the next day. He requested the newspaper to retract the article and reprimand the reporters. Mr. Wu who is the deputy editor-in-chief refused to comply. Mr. Li immediately deployed a task force of more than 40 policemen to storm the news agency.

Although the authority promptly silenced major news agencies such as the People's Daily and Xinhua News, many local and regional newspapers as well as online communities had spread pictures of the scene before a gag order was issued. Facing mounting grassroots media pressure, the CCP Taizhou committee order Mr. Li Xiaoguo to be transferred to another post.

On a side note, this is not exactly a case of freedom of press, but rather an reflection of the engagement protocol used by the police when they are facing a dispute with anyone else. The news report in question was instructed and approved by Taizhou CCP disciplinary committee, an upper level authority overseeing both parties involved.

'Taizhou Evening' is a regional daily newspaper. Taizhou is a city in eastern Zhejiang Province. Zhejiang lies right below Shanghai on China's east coast.

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