New Gross Violations of Journalists’ Rights in Minsk
Journalists who were covering a street Solidarity Action in the center of Minsk were roughly prevented from fulfilling their professional duties.
Police officers did not allow journalists to make pictures of the action. According to reporters, the police acted even rougher than during the similar events of 9 and 16 September. Each photo and video journalist had several officers in plain clothes who tried to prevent reporters from filming the action.
A journalist of Charter'97 web site Natallia Radzina told BAJ Press Service she tried to intercede for a photo reporter of their media outlet who was prevented from making pictures by the police.
"I was hit several times, and then pushed away very rudely, so that I even fell down. It was impossible not only to come up to the place of the action, but even to look that way," Natallia Radzina says.
According to Ms.Radzina, both she and the photo reporter of Charter"97 had their journalists" IDs clearly seen.
Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe reported the police "reacted even to mobile phones in people’s hands, trying to close them with their bodies." In the situation like that photo reporters made pictures jumping or trying to turn aside from the police officers.
The photos of the incident can be found here.
And here is the link to a video piece by BelaPAN about a police officer chasing a journalist.
Andrei Bastunets, a media lawyer and a Vice Chairman of the Belarusian Association of Journalists called the situation "mere cynicism."
"Despite of the fact official complaints sent by BAJ are now considered in the Public Prosecutors offices and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, we can see the old scenario is implemented again," Andrei Bastunets comments.
16 October 2009 about 40 people organized a peaceful action in Kastrychnitskaya Square in the center of Minsk. The action was to support political prisoners and to commemorate political opponents of the present Belarusian regime who disappeared in 1999 and 2000. A lot of participant of the action were detained, including leaders of Belarusian opposition Anatol Liabedzka and Mikola Statkevich. There were no journalists detained.
It is worth reminding that journalists were previously prevented from taking pictures and filming peaceful civil actions in Minsk 9 and 16 September 2009.
The Belarusian Association of Journalists protested against gross violations of professional rights of journalists and demanded bringing people who were in charge of the violations to account.