Reporters Without Borders is deeply shocked by the violence used by the Georgian security forces in the early hours of May 26 against journalists covering an anti-government demonstration in Tbilisi.
“According to our sources, at least a dozen journalists were attacked or detained by the police, who seem to have lost their self-control,” Reporters Without Borders said. “This use of force against reporters who were just covering events is intolerable. We urge both the authorities and the opposition to respect journalists, who must not be the collateral victims of the current political tension.”
Thousands of people have been demonstrating every day in Georgia since 21 May to demand President Saakashvili’s departure. On May 26, shortly after midnight, interior ministry police used force to disperse the opposition demonstration taking place on Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi after warning the protesters they would have to vacate the street for celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of Georgia’s independence.
The police fired tear-gas and rubber bullets and used batons to disperse the protesters. Journalists were verbally and physically attacked in the ensuing melee. Cameras and video cameras were seized or destroyed. And some reporters were arrested without justification.
“Many of these abuses were deliberate,” Reporters Without Borders added. “The police were well aware that the journalists were there as reporters. Several journalists were beaten although they were clearly identified. The police ripped press badges and armbands off some reporters.
Source: Reporters Without Borders