While Aba Country, Sichuan has been under tightened security following recent self-immolations by Tibetans protesting Beijing’s policies in Tibet, a handful of foreign journalists have been able to sneak through the report from the area. See reports from Jonathan Watts of the Guardian, Gillian Wong of AP, Tom Lasseter of McClatchy Newspapers, and Louisa Lim of NPR, for example. Now, Sky News has broadcast some of the first video footage from Aba which they recorded on a surreptitious mission to the region:
Dominated by Kirti Monastery, a sprawling complex that houses several hundred Buddhist monks, Aba has now been swamped by Chinese paramilitary police.
Ranks of men in anti-riot gear crouch behind the steel barricades that line the town’s main street, while camouflaged troops use a field less than 200 yards from the monastery’s golden stupa to practice martial arts drills.
Though no violent protests have been reported in Aba, unrest in nearby Ganzi has left at least two people dead.
While the Sky reporter, Holly Williams, was able to sneak past police checkpoints, she reports that it wasn’t all smooth sailing:
After leaving Aba the Sky News crew was detained by police who forcibly searched bags and deleted files from an audio recording device.
They temporarily confiscated a computer and camera, threatened to revoke Chinese visas and then followed the car for 300 kilometres (187 miles).