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Two community radio journalists detained, assaulted by police while covering student demonstration

(AMARC/IFEX) - Two correspondents of the Santiago-based Radio Primero de Mayo radio station were arbitrarily detained by members of the Carabineros, a uniformed armed national police and gendarme body, while they were covering a demonstration by high-school students expressing their demands to the government of President Michelle Bachelet. The incident occurred on the morning of 24 April 2008.

Sandra Ortega and Victor Pérez were detained as they were leaving the site of the demonstration as the Carabineros began breaking up the demonstration. "They were arbitrarily detained, without being informed of either the motive for their detention or their rights as detainees," states a press release posted on the radio station's blog.

Ortega and Pérez produce a programme, "Voz en Fuga", and Ortega is also a member of the station's news team.

According to Radio Primero de Mayo director Polo Sarmiento, the two journalists were insulted and beaten on the arms and ribs while in the police vehicle in which they were taken to the Third Precinct (Tercera Comisaría) in Santiago, and kept in a cell there. They were held from 11 a.m. (local time) to 6:30 p.m. the same day, when a lawyer from a local human rights organisation arranged for their release.

AMARC asks the government to respect the work done by community radio station journalists such as Radio Primero de Mayo's staff, and to condemn the Carabineros' use of excessive force against Ortega and Pérez. AMARC also asks for the incident to be investigated and for those responsible for the journalists' detention and assault to be promptly punished.

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