Foreign journalists detained as China preparing 1st anniversary of Sichuan earthquake

Foreign journalists in the Sichuan earthquake zone of western China have been detained by the government as Beijing tightens security towards the first anniversary of earthquake.

A correspondent for the Irish Times was detained Wednesday by police for almost an hour for trying to meet parents of hundreds of children who died in school collapse in the town of Juyuan, the Financial Times reports.

He was released later but told foreign reporters were forbidden from interviewing grieving parents during the “sensitive” period around the anniversary of the earthquake, which killed nearly 90,000 people.

A Finnish television crew was also attacked Tuesday near Fuxin number two primary school while trying to interview parents of the 126 children killed when the shoddily built school collapsed.

China has stepped up controls on independent reporting and taken extra measures to stifle dissent, as near the 20th anniversary on June 4 of the crackdown on student democracy activists at Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Foreign journalists should trust the Chinese government to resolve any issue on which they were forbidden to report, Zhang Jie said, a Chinese official of Mianyang county.

May 12 marks the first anniversary of the earthquake that rattled Sichuan in 2008.