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Kyrgyzstan: Three TV journalists attacked in Osh

Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) has deplored the June 20 physical attack by demonstrators on three TV journalists who were covering a rally in support of the Kyrgyz nationalist party Ata-Zhurt in the southern city of Osh. It again highlighted the dangers to which journalists are exposed in Kyrgyzstan as well as police bias against the media.

The violence occurred when NTS television reporters Chynara Sydykova and Ayzhan Ismaylova and cameraman Vladimir Bezborodov went to cover a demonstration in support of Ata-Zhurt parliamentarians Kamchybek Tashiyev and Zhyldyzkan Dzholdoshova. The three journalists were assaulted while police looked on without intervening. Bezborodov was badly beaten and is still in hospital.

Although the office of the president issued communiqué calling on the police to “carry out an effective and objective investigation” into the attack on the journalists, the police issued a statement today absolving the demonstrators and blaming the journalists, accusing them of coming to the demonstration without accreditation (although no accreditation was needed as it was a public event).

The police statement went on to accuse the journalists of insulting the demonstrators, and said this had been corroborated by “11 witnesses” who participated in the demonstration. It claimed that they had not been hit. And finally, it claimed that a neurosurgeon at the municipal hospital who examined Bezborodov had diagnosed “neurosis.”

“We are outraged by this latest attack on journalists who were just doing their job,” RSF said. “The police failed in their duty to protect them during the demonstration and then went on to display a culpable degree of indulgence towards their attackers, providing them with an excuse by finding fault with the victims, and refusing to open an investigation.

“No progress has been made in the investigations into the attacks on journalists of the last few months. On the contrary, the impunity enjoyed by those responsible is growing alarmingly. Despite the official statements and the international community’s appeals, the authorities seem unable to guarantee journalists’ safety. If nothing changes, this situation will end up threatening the right to information in Kyrgyzstan.”

“The claims made by the police in their official statement are not only false but also ridiculous and offensive to the journalists,” RSF added. “We call on the security forces to conduct a serious investigation in order to identify the journalists’ attackers.”

Date posted: June 21, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 71