Sunday, November 11, 2007

Journalists attacked by riot police (Malaysiakini)

Journalists attacked by riot police
Chua Sue-Ann
Nov 10, 07 8:21pm

A number of journalists covering poll reform group Bersih rally today were kicked and beaten by riot police as they sought to disperse protesters at the Masjid Jamek area.

Chaos erupted at around 2.30pm as riot police fired a torrent of chemical-laced water and discharged a volley of tear gas canisters at more than 2,000 people.

In the melee, members of the press, both local and foreign, were not spared.
A female journalist, who declined to be named, said she was hit with a baton by a police officer who was trying to drive away the crowd.

“He hit... my buttocks and he was telling me ‘Go, go, go, like I’m some donkey’,” she decried.

Another journalist, who also requested anonymity, reported being kicked twice by the police - on his back and his thigh.

He ticked off the authorities for using “unnecessary force” against the journalists. “I’m surprised at the brutality of the police.”

The duo were among five journalists who were standing behind police lines before they were suddenly assaulted by about 10 police officers.

One of them, a female journalist from a local newspaper, was injured by the beatings. A policeman kicked her neck as she lay on the ground, refusing to stop despite pleas from the other press members.

CPO not aware of violence

It is also claimed that Federal Reserve Unit officers attacked a Swedish journalist with their shields, while two others are said to have received injuries as a result of being targets of a tear gas canister and the water cannon.

Kuala Lumpur chief police officer Zulhasnan Najib Baharuddin, when contacted by Malaysiakini, denied knowledge of police violence against journalists.

“Are there reports? It has not been brought to my attention,” he said.

The Bersih rally calling for clean and fair elections has attracted an estimated 40,000 people despite heavy rain, government threats and police roadblocks.

Protesters were unable to congregate at Dataran Merdeka after the venue was sealed off by the police, and were forced to gather at four alternative meeting points at Masjid Jamek, Pasar Seni, Sogo department store and Masjid Negara.


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