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Peru20 June 2005

TV journalists come under repeated attack

Reporters Without Borders said it was shocked at a brutal assault against two television journalists on 16 June 2005 by villagers in the north-western Cajamarca region and deplored police failure to protect them. Luis Mego Díaz of América Televisión and Jaime Herrera Atayala, of Televisión nacional del Perú, were beaten by villagers in San Cirilo, who were demonstrating against environmental pollution in the mining region.The organisation also condemned brutality in similar circumstances against Silvana Moz Mendoza and Raúl Tarrillo, of Amazónica Televisión-Canal 2, on 8 June in Iquitos, in the Loreto region in the north.

"The resentment felt by some people towards the press cannot in any way justify this repeated violence against journalists who are only doing their job. The safety of journalists in some of Peru’s more remote areas is becoming really worrying. We also condemn failures of police, who on two occasions, proved incapable of controlling demonstrations at which these assaults took place and protecting journalists in time. We hope they will show greater efficiency when it comes to dealing with the perpetrators.", said the organisation

Mego Díaz and Herrera Atayala were beaten up in San Cirilo by villagers furious at pollution of ground water caused by the mining industry in the Cajamarca region. A third journalist, Sandro Chambergo Montejo, of Correo de Lambayeque, was forced to run away.

Herrera Atayala was beaten about the head, had his press armband ripped off and was chased by five villagers, the National Association of Journalists (ANP) said. His colleague Mego Díaz was punched and kicked in the abdomen and whipped about the legs. Herrera Atalaya identified Genaro López Celiz among those who attacked his colleague.

"Villagers believe that journalists are biased in their handling of environmental issues. They maintain that they are on the side of the mining industry", Zuliana Lainez Otero of the ANP, to whom the two journalists described what happened, told Reporters Without Borders.

Silvana Moz Mendoza and Raúl Tarrillo were jeered at and beaten with sticks on 8 June in Iquitos in the north by drunken demonstrators claiming allegiance to the "Loreto Patriotic Front", as the journalists filmed a blockade of the town during a 48-hour strike. The editor of Amazónica Televisión, was quoted by the press freedom organisation the Press and Society Institute of Peru (IPYS) as saying that police did nothing to stop the violence.

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