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IAPA condemns mistreatment of press in Chile; expresses concern over attack on journalist in Aruba

(IAPA/IFEX) - September 13, 2010 - The Inter American Press Association today deplored violence unleashed on Saturday against the press in Chile during street demonstrations marking the anniversary of the coup that overthrew the government of Salvador Allende.

As an authorized march being held peacefully by the Group of Family Members of Arrested and Missing Persons in remembrance of those killed during the military takeover was coming to end in downtown Santiago and the city's main cemetery, on reaching the graveyard a mob made up of masked persons appeared out of nowhere, attacking and attempting to overturn television mobile units, smashing their windows and hurling rocks and smoke bombs at reporters, photographers and cameramen, forcing them to flee from the scene.

IAPA President Alejandro Aguirre, editor of the Miami, Florida, Spanish-language newspaper Diario Las Américas, declared, "Violence against media and journalists is unacceptable," adding that the hemisphere organization "hopes that the authorities will investigate and punish those responsible for such acts, as the government has indeed announced."

In another incident, in Aruba María Berry, a photographer with the newspaper Diario, was beaten up by a man as she was photographing a person injured in an accident on a construction site on his arrival at hospital. The unidentified assailant after punching her in the chest threw her to the floor, causing various injuries. Police arrested him but later released him, as required by law in Aruba.

Robert Rivard, chairman of the IAPA Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information and editor of the San Antonio Express-News, Texas, said he was appalled at the unusual act of violence unleashed against the Diario photographer and called on the Aruban authorities not to let the incident go unpunished.

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