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Journalists assaulted during political rally in Chiapas

(CEPET/IFEX) - On 18 June 2009, supporters of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (Partido de la Revolución Democrática, PRD) assaulted a group of journalists and damaged their equipment. The journalists, who were from several different media outlets, were covering a rally for Carlos Díaz Saldaña, a PRD federal congressional candidate, in Tapachula, Chiapas.

The rally was attended by Alejandro Encinas, the former head of the Federal District Government. At the end of the event, the journalists approached in order to obtain Encinas' views on an internal PRD dispute over the candidacy for the delegation head in Iztapalapa, in Mexico City.

When the journalists attempted to interview the PRD members, a woman and two men began insulting and pushing them. Several others then joined in the assault against the media personnel, according to Ramón García Cardona, a journalist for the daily "Cuarto Poder". Rosario González Chay, of the daily "Diario del Sur", and Rodolfo Hernández González, a reporter for "El Orbe" and correspondent for "Noticias, Voz e Imagen de Chiapas", were beaten in addition to have their photographic equipment damaged, then stolen. Likewise, the journalists' assailants ripped to pieces the shirt and vest worn by Raymundo Grajales, a reporter for "Zona Libre", and damaged the camera of Darinel González López, of "Gráfico Sur", to the point where it would not longer function.

"There were no security officers present. They pushed me then turned on my colleague from 'El Orbe', ripping his shirt. We journalists all got together to defend ourselves," García Cardona said. He added that, after the assault ended, he saw the woman who began the altercation talking to the PRD candidate, apparently giving an account of what had taken place. García Cardona said he then saw the PRD candidate pay the woman, leading the journalist to believe that she was probably one of the organisers of the event.

Hernández González said the first assault was against a journalist from Canal 4 television station. When García Cardona asked for the press to be left alone to carry out their work the PRD supporters turned on him as well as any other journalist who tried to assist him.

Finally, the journalists fled the scene and, according to both Hernández González and García Cardona, a few hours later, PRD party member Carlos Díaz Saldaña contacted them, promising to take responsibility for the damages suffered by the media personnel.

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