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Journalists attacked by demonstrators supporting President Chen

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has condemned physical attacks on four journalists by participants in a 25,000-strong demonstration in support of President Chen Shui-ban on 16 September 2006, a day after an estimated 360,000 took part in a protest calling for the president's resignation in the wake of a series of financial scandals allegedly involving his wife.

"We urge both the presidential and opposition camps to issue calls for calm on the part of their supporters and to take measures to avoid violence, in which journalists could be the victims," Reporters Without Borders said, stressing the need for journalists to be able to cover the current political events with complete freedom.

During the pro-Chen demonstration in Taipei, a group of participants threw bottles of water and umbrellas at presenter Huan Peng-Ren of satellite station CTi and then hit him, after he interviewed two parliamentary representatives of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party. His assailants apparently thought the parliamentarians should not have given an interview to a station considered sympathetic to the opposition Kuomintang party.

After smashing lighting and other equipment, the angry crowd attacked Chang Chong-Bin and Gao Wen-Yin of privately-owned TTV when they tried to interview their CTi colleague about the violence he had just undergone. Journalist Lee Ze-Ming of Formosa TV (FTV), which supports President Chen, was also manhandled by the crowd because he was wearing a red jacket, the colour of those campaigning for Chen's resignation.

The Taipei Journalists Union (TJU) also condemned these attacks and called on the organisers of demonstrations to ensure the safety of journalists.

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