After assualt, photojournalist calls for protection of the media
Photojournalist Myat Thu Kyaw yesterday filed a lawsuit against an unknown assailant who attacked him while he was covering a protest on September 11.
PHOTOJOURNALIST Myat Thu Kyaw has filed a lawsuit, claiming he was verbally and physically assaulted while covering a demonstration led by nationalists in Yangon Region’s Bahan township on September 11.
Several hundred nationalists had assembled in a field to protest the appointment of former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to the head of a commission tasked with settling affairs in Rakhine State – a move the nationalists perceive as an international intrusion on domestic issues.
In an incident witnessed by a Myanmar Times reporter, the Myanmar Pressphoto Agency’s Myat Thu Kyaw was hit while he was trying to take a picture of the clash between the residents and the demonstrators.
“I was hit once in the back, once in the chest and once on my face,” he said at a press conference yesterday. “I had some difficulty breathing the next day but it only hurts a bit on my back now.”
In the chaos, he said, it was unclear who the assailant was. The lawsuit has been filed against an “unknown” perpetrator.
“It was a rush and I could not determine the attacker,” he said.
He told the press that he filed the lawsuit not only to protect himself but also for the future protection of those who cover the news. The media should have freedom and safety while working, he said.
“When I was hit, the only thought I had was to protect my camera, which was being grabbed at by them,” he said. “Then, I escaped when the police pulled me out.”
European Pressphoto AgencyMyanmar chief photographer Ko Nyein Chan Naing, who was also involved in the process of filing the lawsuit, said that security concerns extend not just to the media but also to anyone who passes by. Protesters must obey certain restrictions during their demonstrations, he said, so actions should be taken.
“Photojournalists and video journalists are the ones who have to go closest to the area in order to cover the event so things like grabbing the camera or swearing at the journalists can be considered robbery or threats, and so on,” he said. “For the safety of us all, the government should protect reporters under the appropriate laws.”
The trial is scheduled to begin on September 26.
Ko Aung Naing Soe, a photojournalist from Coconuts Media who was also at the protest, said, “We already filed the case at the Bahan police station, so the remaining process will depend on the actions taken by the authorities.”
‘For the safety of us all, the government should protect reporters under the appropriate laws.’
Ko Nyein Chan Naing photographer