Ameriques Asie Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
Madagascar9 February 2009

Dismay at fatal shooting of TV reporter covering anti-government demonstration

Reporters Without Borders is shocked to learn that Ando Ratovonirina of privately-owned Radio et Télévision Analamanga (RTA) was shot dead while covering an anti-government demonstration outside the presidential palace in Antananarivo on 7 February. The 25-year-old reporter and cameraman was among the scores of people who were killed or wounded when security forces opened fired on the protesters.

“Like all those mourning an unnecessary death, our first thoughts are for the victim’s family as well as for the RTA staff, who are traumatised by the loss of their young colleague,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We hail the courage of independent journalists who do their best to cover the political unrest in Madagascar despite threats, intimidation and a disturbing level of violence. It is not right that a journalist should have to pay with his life for trying to report the news for his fellow citizens.”

Ratovonirina was part of the RTA team covering a large demonstration organised by Antananarivo mayor Andry Rajoelina on 7 February to call for the replacement of President Marc Ravalomanana’s government. He was shot in the head when members of the presidential guard opened fire on demonstrators as they surged towards the presidential palace. His body was immediately taken to Ravoahangy Hospital, where a doctor said he had been killed by a “gunshot wound behind the ear.”

Fellow RTA journalists Heritina Ny Anjarason and Mirindra Raparivelo were with Ratovonirina at the time of the shooting.

Anjarason told Reporters Without Borders: “Ando was holding a microphone and was taking notes while Mirindra had a small camera. A delegation representing the mayor had gone to talk to the soldiers guarding the palace. When it returned, we approached the mayor’s chief of staff, Gen. Dolin, to interview him about the outcome of the negotiations. We had not yet reached Gen. Dolin and we had our backs to the palace when the shooting started. We threw ourselves to the ground but Ando was hit all the same.”

RTA editor in chief Andry Raveloson told Reporters Without Borders: “Ando died while on the job, as a result of his dedication to journalism. We decided to broadcast only a shortened version of the news programme as a tribute to him.”

Ratovonirina had only recently completed his journalism studies and had been working for RTA for three months. He was previously a photographer for the La Gazette de la Grande Ile daily newspaper and used to write for the Tophos news agency under the pseudonym of Hathor.

In this country
22 May - Madagascar
Radio Mada reporter freed after two weeks in detention
23 April - Madagascar
Media under attack one month after new president installed
13 March - Madagascar
Concern about malagasy journalists caught up in political turmoil
17 December - Madagascar
Government closes TV station owned by political rival
24 May - Madagascar
RFI correspondent forced to leave the country

in the annual report
Madagascar - Annual report 2006

Africa press releases
3 June - Somalia
Alarm at TV station director’s abduction near Mogadishu
27 May - Gabon
Government imposes news blackout on President Bongo’s health
26 May - Somalia
Radio reporter shot by militia dies of injuries, fourth journalist to be killed this year

africa archives

18 March 2009 - Democratic Republic of Congo
“Bukavu, murder city”: investigation report into murders of journalists in the capital of Sud-Kivu
21 May 2008 - Eritrea
Naizghi Kiflu, the dictatorship’s eminence grise
6 March 2008 - Kenya
"How far to go ?" Kenya’s media caught in the turmoil of a failed election

Sign the petitions
Sign the petition for the release of ten Eritrean journalists