Journalists beaten by police in central Tunis
Reporters Without Borders - 10/05/2011
Reporter Abdelfattah Belaid was brutally attacked in Tunis today by police officers who pursued him into the headquarters of his newspaper, the French-language daily La Presse, after spotting him taking pictures of them dispersing protesters in the street outside. He was the second journalist to be beaten by police in Tunis in the past 24 hours.
“The police violence against journalists in the past two days is like a bad memory,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said. “It is as if the old methods were back just four months after President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s fall. We urge the transitional government to investigate these incidents and to order the security forces to put a stop to such practices.”
Belaid was photographing police officers using force to disperse demonstrators on Bourguiba Avenue when three police noticed him and set off in pursuit. They pursued him right inside the newspaper’s building, located 50 metres away, finally catching him on the third floor, where they beat him over the head with a metal bar before leaving with his cameras and shoes.
He was taken to a hospital to be examined with a scanner.
La Presse editor Sofiane Ben Farhat told Reporters Without Borders: “We are shocked by what happened to our colleague. I oppose such practices, which date back to another era. Chasing journalists is not the message that should be sent in the days following World Press Freedom Day. We have asked the Union of Journalists to contact the authorities and get this stopped.”
Radio Kalima reporter Marwa Rekik was attacked and beaten over the head by police officers while covering a demonstration on Bourguiba Avenue late yesterday afternoon. She had to be hospitalized.
Tunis has been in turmoil and rocked by protests since the broadcasting of controversial comments by former interior minister Farhat Rajhi, known as “Mr. Clean,” on the evening of 4 May. In his comments, which he says were filmed without his knowledge, he talked about his removal from the government and the appointment of members of Ben Ali’s RCD party as governors against his will.
“Ever since then, there has been a lot of tension within the police,” La Presse editor Farhat told Reporters Without Borders. “And we have seen that the methods they use with journalist have become much tougher.”
6th May 2011