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Several journalists assaulted, injured in violent incidents following Kosovo's declaration of independence

(ANEM/IFEX) - The following is an ANEM statement:

THREATS AND ASSAULTS ON JOURNALISTS AND MEDIA MUST STOP

BELGRADE, February 28, 2008 ? The Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) most severely criticizes the assaults on journalists and media in Serbia.

Several journalists and reporters were injured last Thursday during the Kosovo related protests in Belgrade, and there was an attempted assault on ANEM member station, Radio Television B92. A Dutch NRC reporter, Handelsblad Dirk Jan Viser, ended up with three broken ribs in the protests in front of the U.S. Embassy. Two journalists of the Russian television station that broadcasts in English, "Russia Today", Andrei Fyodorow and Andrei Pavlov, were also beaten during the violent protests in front of the American Embassy. The attempted assault on the building used by Radio Television B92 was prevented by the police.

The assaults came after a justification of the previous incidents following the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo by the Serbian government Minister Velimir Ilic, who said that windows' breaking was also a democratic act, and also after his colleague Slobodan Samardzic said that incidents on the crossing points on the administrative border line with Kosovo, in which several journalists were attacked and several cameras were broken, had been in line with the Serbian government policy.

After the murder threats and information that bombs were planted that all came in by electronic mail, and after putting a video clip with scenes that serve to invite people to shoot at B92 journalists on the YouTube Internet site, spokesman of the Democratic Party of Serbia, Andreja Mladenovic publicly stated a completely ungrounded accusation against this media saying that they choose not to publish statements of domestic officials, publishing only statements of the foreign politicians coming from the countries that had already acknowledged Kosovo independence.

Assaults on journalists continued on Monday, too, when Milica Ivanovic, correspondent of the Beta News Agency and daily "Blic" from Leskovac was hit with a log during the protests held on the administrative crossing point Mutivode near Medvedja, when police refused to protect her when she asked them for help. On that same occasion, a B92 crew narrowly evaded an assault due to the solidarity of their colleagues.

ANEM considers it absolutely unacceptable that tensions that have been accumulating in Serbia after the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo are now abused in order to terrorize and intimidate journalists and to reduce media to silence in order to create an atmosphere of fear in which media cannot perform their social function to inform the general public on everything they have a right to be informed about.

ANEM expresses its open solidarity with everyone who was recently threatened and assaulted only because they were doing their work as journalists and media professionals, and appeals to the relevant officials to investigate each individual case of assault, to inform the general public on the results of their investigations and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

ANEM appeals to all the participants in the public and political life in Serbia to demonstrate the proper measure of responsibility adequate to the current situation in the country, and to disassociate themselves from violence and refrain from public statements that incite intolerance.

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