BBC Journalist ‘Beaten And Kicked’ By Chinese Police After Being Arrested For Covering Protests

(Photo by ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP via Getty Images)

Chinese police kicked and beat a BBC journalist after he was arrested for covering the biggest protests by the Chinese people since the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests during which the Chinese government massacred over 10,000 civilians.

BBC reporter Edward Lawrence was arrested by Chinese police while covering protests of China’s strict COVID-19 lockdowns that erupted following last week’s deadly fire at a residential building in Urumqi, the capital of China’s far western region of Xinjiang, that killed 10 people and injured nine others. Protestors say that the lockdowns contributed to the deaths as residents of the city have been prevented from leaving their homes for months.

“I’m at the scene of last night’s extraordinary anti Covid-zero protest in Shanghai. Many people are gathered here quietly watching. Lots of cops. Two girls laid flowers which were promptly removed by police. One man drove past with middle finger up at police,” Lawrence reported. “[S]ome small crowds are gathered on the sidewalks quietly watching the scene and the police presence.”

“I’ve seen several people with flowers. One girl was holding a blank piece of paper. One man has just approached me to say his flowers were confiscated by police. As he tells me this, two cops come over to listen to our conversation,” he added. “The crowd has grown from maybe a few dozen to several hundred. I’ve seen the police arrest three people – two of whom then fought with police. There’s a silent tension until one person shouts, and then the crowd chants and claps in support. I’m told by friends that police have blocked the roads around this area and they’re not letting people through.”

Lawrence was then arrested by Chinese police and was “beaten and kicked” while he was detained, according to the BBC.

“The BBC is extremely concerned about the treatment of our journalist Ed Lawrence, who was arrested and handcuffed while covering the protests in Shanghai,” the BBC said in a statement. “He was held for several hours before being released. During his arrest, he was beaten and kicked by the police. This happened while he was working as an accredited journalist.”

“It is very worrying that one of our journalists was attacked in this way whilst carrying out his duties,” the statement added. “We have had no official explanation of apology from the Chinese authorities, beyond a claim by the officials who later released him that they had arrested him for his down good in case he caught Covid from the crowd. We do not consider this a credible explanation.”