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Students assault journalists during demonstrations

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 24 September 2009, Rafael Castro and Jorge Cabezas, a reporter and camera operator respectively for Ecuador TV's "En Busca de Respuestas" programme, were beaten by students who were participating in a demonstration in support of members of the National Teachers' Union (UNE). The incident took place in Guayaquil.

The journalists were covering the demonstration when a group of students ran towards them in order to kick and punch them. Castro was beaten with sticks.

Cabezas identified Galo Mindiola, a leader of the Ecuadorian University Students' Federation (FEUE), and university professor Alex Gutiérrez as his assailants and filed a formal complaint against them. Gutiérrez had already been denounced for acting aggressively towards the press on a previous occasion.

Juan Carlos Ortiz, the producer of the "En Busca de Respuestas" programme, said that the attack was in retaliation for previous coverage of the protests, although he noted that the programme had also given UNE representatives the opportunity to present their views.

Another reporter, who works for a state-owned media outlet, was hit in the face by a FEUE leader during the protests. She asked that her identity not be revealed.

César Muñoz, a photojournalist for the "Diario Hoy" newspaper, was also slightly wounded during the demonstration when a homemade bomb exploded near him. In addition, Mauricio Cerón, a camera operator for the Ecuavisa television station, was struck and wounded by an explosive device. He was covering the protests in Quito.

FUNDAMEDIOS and IPYS condemn these violent actions and call on the authorities to ensure that journalists are protected from harm when they cover demonstrations.


RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Send appeals to the interior minister and commander-in-chief of the police:
- requesting that security measure be implemented for journalists


APPEALS TO:

Gustavo Jalkh
Ministro de Gobierno y Derechos Humanos
(Interior and Human Rights Minister)
Benalcázar N4-24 y Espejo
Tel: +593 295 5666
E-mail: [email protected]

Freddy Martínez
Comandante General de la Policía
(Police Commander-in-Chief)
Av. Amazonas y Juan Pablo Sanz
Tel: +593 224 4858
E-mail: [email protected]

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
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