The Institute of Journalists Malaysia (IoJ) strongly condemns the anti-Bersih group’s alleged harassment of members of the media covering the Bersih convoy in Kuala Selangor yesterday.
The Star reported that those from the anti-Bersih group, some of whom were clad in red, allegedly grabbed the collar of one of its female journalists, pushed her and told her to delete a video recording of the standoff between the anti-Bersih and Bersih groups. (http://www.thestar.com.my/…/the-star-journos-harassed-by-a…/)
The Star also said the anti-Bersih group allegedly forced the newspaper’s videographer to delete visuals from his smartphone, snatched the phone away from him and took a picture of his media tag.
Malaysiakini reported that the anti-Bersih group allegedly punched the news portal’s photographer on the shoulder and called her “Cina babi”. (https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/359189)
Other reporters from The Star and Malaysiakini were also allegedly roughed up when they tried to intervene on the behalf of the female reporter from The Star.
Malaysiakini said the anti-Bersih group were not clad in red shirts, but were believed to be associated with Red Shirts leader Datuk Jamal Md Yunos as some had attended previous Red Shirts rallies.
The allegations of assault against the press are especially disturbing as the targets were women journalists. Violence against women is despicable. Taking pictures of a journalist’s media tag is also an act of intimidation.
We urge the police to take immediate action against the alleged perpetrators of assault. Freedom of speech does not include violent behaviour.
Journalists must be allowed to do their work without encountering threats, or acts of violence or intimidation.
Anti-Bersih groups or any other party should be brave enough to face media scrutiny instead of using violence to suppress coverage.
The IoJ is opposed to any acts of violence. We urge the police to uphold citizens’ right to freedom of assembly without the fear of violent reprisal.
The Institute of Journalists Malaysia