The International Federation of Journalists today called for an end to attacks on journalists and media staff in Kyrgystan after reports of three separate incidents of journalists falling victims to violence amid scenes of chaos in the capital Bishkek over the past 24 hours.
The seizure of state media by opposition groups and the vigorous support of independent media for change has placed journalists and media at the centre of the reform movement said the IFJ.
“But we need a period of calm and an end to intimidation. Journalists need to be able to report the recent political upheavals without being subject to violence,” said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ. “While some appear to have been indiscriminately targeted for their equipment, others appear to have been beaten by security forces.”
Yesterday, the leader of the Kyrgstan Union of Journalists, Azamat Kalman, had both legs broken when trying to report the street violence. Today the IFJ was told that Bulgarian journalist Dessislava Rizova had been severely beaten around the head by security officers during the storming of the government building.
Ivan Volonikhin and Aleksey Vinogradov, members of the Russian Channel Three TV crew were also attacked by a mob last night. They were not seriously injured, but had their car destroyed and the cameras and mobile phones stolen.
“This exposes once again the risks that journalists are subjected to when covering political turmoil and scenes of civil disorder. They can be targeted because they are journalists, or because they carry expensive equipment or they may be the random victims of mob violence,” said the IFJ. “We urge all journalists to take great care and we urge media employers to ensure their staff are fully trained and insured before being sent on mission.”
Further advice on journalists’ safety issues can be obtained from the International News Safety Institute at Live News: A Survival Guide for Journalists
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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries