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Community television station's journalists attacked, equipment stolen

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 30 August 2009, a group of workers from the community-based television station Montaña TV reported that they were assaulted when they were covering a 29 August march organised by groups that oppose the government of President Hugo Chávez. Montaña TV broadcasts in the municipality of Andrés Bello, in the state of Táchira, western Venezuela.

The Montaña TV workers were assaulted when a confrontation broke out between those who support and those who oppose the Chávez government as the march was passing in front of the Education Ministry's regional headquarters. Journalists Franklyn Machado, Greison Chacón and Cristian Montoya said that the actions against them took place because the media outlet they work for "supports the revolutionary process." They noted that a Sony video camera owned by the Communications Ministry was stolen from them, as well as video tapes. They were also beaten and verbally assaulted.

Machado, who works as a camera operator for the Education Ministry's regional office, said that he was working with the Montaña TV team when he found himself surrounded by a large group of people who began beating him, causing injuries to his chest and back. He said that, as a result of the incident, he fears for his life.

The journalists reported the assault to the Public Prosecutor's Office.

IPYS condemns the actions against the journalists, which represent an attack on freedom of expression, and calls for measures to be implemented to ensure that media outlets can carry out their work.

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