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.

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - SHOON NAING news­room@mm­times.com

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

PHOTO: ZARNI PHYO

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