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Police officers assault journalists and camera operators

(C-Libre/IFEX) - On 30 July 2009, several local and international journalists and camera operators were assaulted by police officers in the capital of Honduras as the officers were attempting to stop citizens from demonstrating against the recent coup d'état in the country.

Karen Méndez, a journalist for the international Telesur television chain, said that police officers shoved her and threatened to kill her, while her camera operator, Roger Guzmán, was assaulted and had his camera tape seized.

"They took the footage showing women and elderly people being assaulted. Teargas canisters were thrown and one of the police officers took out his gun and waved it at me," Guzmán said.

Méndez told C-Libre that an order had been issued to shoot at the press. "It's a way to suppress freedom of expression. They are taking advantage of the fact that the international press will soon leave the country in order to increase the pressure on the country's citizens," she said.

Meanwhile, José Oseguera and Luis Andrés Bustillo, both camera operators from the Maya TV programme "Hable como Habla", were also assaulted by national police officers in the Durazno area, leading out of the capital from the north.

"Independent journalists who were covering the demonstration were also assaulted," Rony Huete said by way of Radio Globo radio station.

In addition, C-Libre learned that journalist Edgardo Castro of Televisora Hondureña was detained and his equipment was damaged while he was filming police actions against demonstrators in Comayagua.

Police officers also harassed personal from Prensa Latina and tried to seize their equipment but were prevented from doing so when citizens and other journalists intervened.

During the police operations, many demonstrators and activists were beaten or detained.

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