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Two Al-Jazeera cameramen injured by gunmen, radio station set on fire, two more publications suspend work, pro-free expression protesters harassed

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - The following is an ARTICLE 19 press release:

Lebanon: Armed Groups Attack Free Expression

ARTICLE 19 condemns in the strongest of terms the closure of six media outlets in Lebanon and the attack on two others this weekend at the hands of armed men affiliated with Hezbollah and the opposition in Lebanon.

On Friday 9 May, Hezbollah fighters and its allies forced Future TV, Future News and Radio Orient off the air. Gunmen forced themselves into the headquarters of each of these media outlets and threatened workers. Cables were disconnected and employees were forced out of the facilities. On that same day, the old headquarters of Future TV which houses the TV station's archives was mercilessly burnt. Fire fighters were not allowed to put the flames off and flags of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party were hoisted atop the burnt structures. The offices of the daily Al-Mustakbal faced a similar fate.

Al-Liwaa daily and Al-Shira' magazine were also forced to stop their work.

On Saturday 10 May, the headquarters of the Armenian-speaking Radio Sevan was also burnt in West Beirut. Meanwhile, protestors demonstrating in support of free expression were harassed by gunmen in Beirut. The protest was organised by the Lebanese Press Club.

On Monday 12 May, two cameramen working for Al-Jazeera were slightly injured by bullets fired on their vehicle by gunmen.

"The violent closure of the 6 media outlets and attacks on media workers at the hands of gunmen is a very dangerous development and blow to freedom of expression in Lebanon, which is known for its media pluralism." said Dr. Callamard, executive director of ARTICLE 19.

ARTICLE 19 condemns in the strongest terms the attacks against media outlets and media workers by Hezbollah and the opposition in Lebanon. These attacks violate the right of all Lebanese people to receive and impart information and ideas, particularly crucial in such stressful situations.

We call upon the Lebanese government and the army to take all necessary measures to protect media outlets and media workers and journalists from attacks, threats and harassment.

Updates alerts on recent attacks on Beirut journalists and media outlets: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/93625

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