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Cameraman attacked while filming opposition demonstration

(JED/IFEX) – JED is gravely concerned by news of another journalist being attacked while covering an opposition rally that was dispersed by the police. On 29 September 2011, John Kinkendu, a cameraman working for the French broadcaster France Télévisions (AITV), was severely beaten and has his camera confiscated by a group of youths aligned with the People's Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD), the presidential party. The youths were attempting to counter a demonstration by the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS). Etienne Tshisekedi, a UDPS candidate, is preparing to run against President Kabila in the elections scheduled for 28 November 2011. The UDPS is demanding access to the central server of the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) in order to ensure the reliability of the electoral process.

In an interview with JED, Kinkendu stated that after the police dispersed the march, he was followed into a neighbouring alley by youth members of the PPRD's league, who went on to assault him severely and confiscate his work material. "Reached by telephone, the league's press attaché told Francine Mokoko (AITV's permanent correspondent in Kinshasa) that Chaleur (one of the league's leaders) had confirmed that the confiscated camera was at their headquarters," Kinkendu said. Following this discussion, Kinkenku went to the headquarters to retrieve his camera, only to find it severely damaged.

According to JED, this attack does not appear to be an isolated incident but rather an act targeting the journalist for his work. This leads JED to strongly condemn this unacceptable act of political intolerance.

JED calls upon authorities within the presidential party to instruct their militants to stop attacking journalists, once and for all, and to openly declare their support for freedom of expression.

It should be noted that on 1 September, during a demonstration organised by the UDPS, four media professionals, John Bompengo (Radio Okapi), Daudet Nzumbu (Canal Congo television), Papy Mulala (Canal Kin television) and Bienvenu Kabamba (Numérique Television) were assaulted and had their material confiscated by members of the same league.

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