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France7 November 2005

Concern about attacks on journalists covering suburban rioting

Reporters Without Borders voiced concern today about the violence that has been targeted against journalists while trying to report on the current wave of unrest in the Parisian suburbs.

“We deplore the violent attacks that have taken place against journalists in the past few days as they were covering events in the field and talking to all the parties involved,” the press freedom organisation said. “It is not normal that journalists should fear being attacked and have to work behind police lines.”

“We are extremely concerned about the open displays of hate towards French journalists which is the result of the press being identified with the authorities,” Reporters Without Borders continued. “Those who most suffer from this partial news blockade are the residents of the suburbs themselves and it raises disturbing questions about the right to information.”

On the most recent attacks was at around 5 p.m. on 5 November when Korean journalist Mihye Kim of the Korean public TV station KBS was attacked by five youths in Aubervilliers just after she had finished interviewing residents near a warehouse that had been torched the previous night.

“They told me I did not have the right to film on their territory and that I should therefore give them money,” Kim told Reporters Without Borders. “When I refused, they tried to take the camera being carried by my cameraman and they hit it. I got my camera back, but they kicked me hard in the head. The night before, I had already tried to do some interviews, but the residents all refused to talk. I now better understand why they were afraid.”

The police came in response to Kim’s shouts and chased off her assailants. She was taken unconscious to a hospital and kept there overnight. After being released late yesterday, she filed a complaint. Her report will be broadcast on KBS today.

In an attack the previous day, on 4 November, TV cameraman Mady Diawara of France 3 was struck full in the face by a stone that was thrown at him while he doing a report about the end of Ramadan in Montfermeil. “I was in the middle of an interview, and I did not seen anything coming,” he told Reporters Without Borders.

A France 2 reporter, cameraman and soundman were attacked by dozens of youths in Aulnay sous Bois on the night of 2 November and were forced to abandon their vehicle, which was then set alight.

A reporter with the German TV station ARD told Reporters Without Borders, “From now on, we are no longer working at night.”

Emmanuelle Maurel, the head of general news at the daily Le Parisien, said: “We have managed to do portraits of rioters but there are districts where dialogue is completely impossible. One reporter was verbally attacked. So was an RTL radio reporter in mid-afternoon last week. All the same, we are still on duty through the night.”

Elaine Cobbe of the US television network CBS told Reporters Without Borders: “We are no longer sending cameramen to film the rioting because it is too dangerous. We are using footage from the news agencies.”

After going to Clichy sous Bois, Radio Suisse Romande correspondent Jacques Allaman told Le Monde that he was “quite happy to be able to say I was a Swiss journalist. He added: “One person I talked to said it’s just as well you are not a French journalist.” Portuguese journalist Daniel Rosario said that when he went to interview youths in the Parisian suburbs, he made a point of saying he was not a French reporter.

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