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Globe International protests attacks on journalists and media outlets; television stations asked to hand over video materials to police

(Globe International/IFEX) - Six journalists were assaulted on 1 July 2008 while they were reporting on demonstrations held to protest the 2008 Parliamentary election results. A riot erupted as protests were held in front of the headquarters of the post-communist Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP).

Byamba-Ochir Byambasuren, a photojournalist for the daily newspaper "Onoodor" (Today), is presently hospitalised at the Trauma Orthopedic Center, suffering from serious trauma to the skull and brain damage. He underwent an operation on the morning of 2 July, and may require additional surgery. "In this case, it is possible to carry out the complicated surgery in Mongolia and the hospital management will seek advice abroad," said his doctor. Globe International has opened a bank account to raise funds for the operation.

Several television cameras and equipment belonging to the Mongolian National Public Television were damaged.

The offices of the "Ogloonii sonin" daily newspaper and the "Humuus" and "Humuusiin Amidral" weeklies were destroyed after Bloc B of the City Cultural Palace complex was set on fire.

The Olloo news portal, which was based in Bloc G of the City Cultural Palace, is not able to operate. Protesters looted equipment and computers from two radio stations housed in the same bloc, FM 107.5 and FM 102.5.

In a separate development, Globe International is protesting a demand from authorities that Ulaanbaatar-based television stations hand over video footage recorded during the 1 July disturbances.

The General Police Authority and the General Investigation Authority have asked for the videos so that they can be used as evidence against over 700 people arrested and detained under the presidential State of Emergency Decree, issued on 1 July.

Globe International believes that television stations have the right to refuse to comply with this demand if their news productions are to be used against the demonstrators and observers of the event.

According to Mongolian practice, the courts and the police do not normally consider and accept media materials as evidence, when it comes to civil and criminal defamation cases against the media.

Globe International believes that it is absolutely wrong and unethical that the police has been running the edited episodes of the video materials, with their commentaries, on the news programmes of the Mongolian National Public Television. The government-controlled station was the only one permitted to broadcast as of 5 July.

Globe International demands that the General Police Authority put an end to this action.

Mongolia's 2008 Parliamentary elections were held on 29 June. Twelve political parties and one coalition contested for 76 seats. On 30 June, the MPRP convened a press conference where they stated that they won the elections with an absolute majority. At that point, the General Election Commission had not officially announced the final results of the elections. The opposition parties protested the results, stating that the elections were not fair and they demanded a re-count of the vote. The opposition parties organised a public demonstration in front of the MPRP headquarters. After a few hours, the demonstrators started vandalising the building and setting fire to it. The police were not able to control the situation and the building was burnt. Riots erupted, with individuals looting the MPRP building, and vandalising the City Cultural Palace complex. Bloc B of the complex was burnt and Bloc C suffered some damage from the fire. The protesters vandalised and looted the offices located in all the other blocs.

Globe International is a Mongolian NGO founded in 1999 that promotes the freedoms of expression, information and media.

Updates IFEX alerts on the 1 July disturbances:

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