From Reporters Without Borders: “Reporters Without Borders has condemned the police violence to which at least 15 journalists were subjected while covering the three days of demonstrations in the capital that began on 5 May. Making no attempt to distinguish between protesters and media personnel, the police roughed up reporters, carried out arrests and confiscated or smashed equipment.
‘The use violence against journalists by the police in recent days is like a bad memory,’ Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said. ‘It is as if the old methods were back just four months after President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s fall. We urge the transitional government to investigate these incidents and to give the security forces clear orders to put a stop to such practices.’
Dozens of journalist took to the streets of Tunis yesterday in response to an appeal by the National Union of Tunisian Journalists to defend press freedom and prevent any return to the practices of the past. The union said the aim of the violence by the police was to prevent the media doing their job and deny the public’s right to information.
One of the worst cases of violence involved Abdelfattah Belaid, an Agence France-Presse correspondent and reporter for the French-language daily La Presse. Police chased him into the headquarters of his newspaper on 6 May, beat him over the head with a metal bar and seized his two cameras and laptop.
Radio Kalima reporter Marwa Rekik had to be hospitalized after being attacked and beaten over the head by police officers while covering a demonstration on the capital’s Bourguiba Avenue on 5 May.
Reuters photographer Zoubeir Souissi told Agence France-Presse that, after ordering him to stop take photos, police officers kicked and clubbed him repeatedly and one of them took his camera. He said he had to bribe the officer in order to recover his camera.”
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