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TV reporter covering anti-government demonstration in Madagascar gunned down

TV reporter covering anti-government demonstration in Madagascar gunned down
A convoy of relatives and mourners moves down the main avenue of Antananarivo city carrying the coffins of people killed in violent clashes over the weekend, February 9. Madagascar's defence minister on Monday announced her resignation in protest at the police shooting of opposition supporters this weekend that left 28 dead and drew international condemnation.Photo: Agence France-Presse (AFP) / Walter Astrada

A reporter-cameraman of a privately-owned TV station in Madagascar was shot dead while covering an anti-government demonstration outside the presidential palace in capital Antananarivo on February 7. The 25-year-old Ando Ratovonirina of Radio et Télévision Analamanga (RTA) was among the scores of people who were killed or wounded when security forces opened fired on the protesters, according to Reporters sans Frontières (RSF).

Ratovonirina was part of the RTA team covering a large demonstration organised by Antananarivo mayor Andry Rajoelina on February 7 to call for the replacement of President Marc Ravalomanana's government. He was shot in the head when members of the presidential guard opened fire on demonstrators as they surged towards the presidential palace. His body was immediately taken to Ravoahangy Hospital, where a doctor said he had been killed by a "gunshot wound behind the ear."

Fellow RTA journalists Heritina Ny Anjarason and Mirindra Raparivelo were with Ratovonirina at the time of the shooting.

"Like all those mourning an unnecessary death, our first thoughts are for the victim's family as well as for the RTA staff, who are traumatised by the loss of their young colleague," Paris-based RSF said. "We hail the courage of independent journalists who do their best to cover the political unrest in Madagascar despite threats, intimidation and a disturbing level of violence. It is not right that a journalist should have to pay with his life for trying to report the news for his fellow citizens."

"We are shocked by the killing of Ando Ratovonirina and extend our condolences to his family and colleagues," said CPJ's Africa programme coordinator, Tom Rhodes. "President Marc Ravalomanana's government must immediately investigate the shooting by members of the presidential guard and hold those responsible to account." Ratovonirina is the first journalist killed in the line of duty in Madagascar since CPJ began keeping detailed death records in 1992.

Anjarason told RSF, "Ando was holding a microphone and was taking notes while Mirindra had a small camera. A delegation representing the mayor had gone to talk to the soldiers guarding the palace. When it returned, we approached the mayor's chief of staff, Gen Dolin, to interview him about the outcome of the negotiations. We had not yet reached Gen Dolin and we had our backs to the palace when the shooting started. We threw ourselves to the ground but Ando was hit all the same."

RTA editor-in-chief Andry Raveloson told RSF, "Ando died while on the job, as a result of his dedication to journalism. We decided to broadcast only a shortened version of the news programme as a tribute to him."

Ratovonirina had only recently completed his journalism studies and had been working for RTA for three months. He was previously a photographer for the La Gazette de la Grande Ile daily newspaper and used to write for Tophos news agency under the pseudonym of Hathor.

Date posted: February 10, 2009 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 513