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Attacks on media continue in Bahrain, Yemen, and Iraq

Pitched battle: Anti-government protesters (back to the camera) and government backers face each other during clashes in Sanaa February 17, 2011. Hundreds of Yemen government loyalists wielding batons and daggers chased off a small group of protesters trying to kick off a seventh day of rallies on Thursday to demand their president end his 32-year rule.

Authorities in Bahrain and Yemen have escalated their physical attack on the press in order to censor coverage of spreading anti-government protests, the Committee to protect Journalists said Thursday. Also, in Iraq, at least two journalists were attacked by guards for the Kurdistan Democratic Party's building, local journalists told CPJ.

"Governments throughout the Middle East and North Africa cannot deny their citizens coverage of these momentous events across the region," said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa programme coordinator. "Local and international media must be allowed to cover the news."

In Bahrain, ABC reporter Miguel Marquez was beaten early Thursday while covering a violent attempt by authorities to clear Lulu Square (Pearl Square) in Manama by what he described as "a gang of thugs." Marques can be heard shouting "journalist" while being attacked in an audio recording posted on the network's website. His camera was confiscated.

Several journalists also reported Thursday that Bahraini authorities are barring journalists from entering the country. New York Times columnist Nickolas Kristof tweeted: "Bahrain barring journalists from entry at airport. King Hamad doesn't want witnesses to his brutality." Roy Gutman, a foreign desk editor for McClatchy Newspapers, told CPJ that McClatchy reporter Nancy Youssef was denied entry to the country.

In Yemen, photographers and camera operators were targeted Thursday by pro-government supporters at anti-government protests. At least four photojournalists were attacked, beaten, and had their cameras confiscated: Ahmad Ghrasi from Agence France-Presse, Yahya Arhab from the European Pressphoto Agency, Amar Awd from Reuters, and Hasan Wataf from rhe Associated Press, according to local journalists.

Al-Jazeera cameraman Samir al-Namri was beaten and had his camera smashed. Adel Abdel Mughni, a reporter for the Sana'a-based Al-Wahdawi opposition weekly was also attacked and had his camera confiscated, according to Al-Wahdawi. Al-Arabiya cameraman Abd al-Qawi al-Soufi was beaten by pro-government supporters and his camera broken.

In Iraq, Hemin Latif, a journalist working for the Sulaimaniya-based Destur news website, was shot and injured today while covering anti-government protests against unemployment and corruption, Mariwan Hama-Saeed, director of local press freedom group Metro Centre, told CPJ. Dozens of protesters attacked the building of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Local journalists told CPJ that the guards for the building shot Latif while he was taking photos. Latif was briefly hospitalised and one of his fingers was broken.

Guards also beat Rahman Gharib, who reports for Metro Centre and Al-Sumaria News website, while he was covering the demonstration, Gharib told CPJ. He said three men from KDP's security forces in military uniforms beat him. "I demand an official apology from KDP and an investigation into what had happened," Gharib said. Two other journalists have been injured, according to the independent biweekly Hawlati. One of them is Alan Mohamed, a photographer with the local photo agency Metrography. The newspaper did not identify the second journalist. Two people were killed and 57 injured in the protests, according to local news reports.

Date posted: February 18, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 133