Journalists continue to be attacked during protests about the disappearance of 43 trainee teachers in the southwestern state of Guerrero. Reporters Without Borders is aware of 14 being injured in a protest in Mexico City on 20 November, in addition to the seven injured in Guerrero’s capital, Chilpancingo, on 11 November.
Some journalists were directly targeted while others were collateral victims. Both police and demonstrators were responsible for the violence against journalists. The accounts of three of the victims follows.
Eduardo Verdugo, a photographer with the Associated Press
“I was getting ready to send some photos at the end of the demonstration when I saw the police arrest a group of youths sitting in front of the (national) palace. I followed them (...) but a civilian staff officer pushed me and federal police officers, who I recognized by their uniforms, asked me for my cameras. Although I identified myself as a properly accredited journalist, they threw me to the ground. One of them nearly strangled me and I told him I could hardly breathe. I finally let go of my cameras. After ordering me to kneel, they left with my cameras. I reported this to another federal police officer, pointing out those responsible, but he ignored me.”
Bruises and lacerations are still visible on Verdugo’s neck.
Eduardo Miranda, a photographer with the magazine Proceso
Miranda said he was taking photos on Zócalo Square at the end of the demonstration when he realized the situation was degenerating. The metal barriers restraining the protesters were overturned and the police began throwing back the objects that the demonstrators were throwing. As Miranda began to take photos, he saw a federal police officer throw an object at him. It hit his right leg, which began to bleed (...) A colleague took him to a medical centre where he was told he would need surgery.
María Idalia Gómez, coordinator of the Eje Central website
“I was taking photos of the demonstration with my mobile phone near the national palace when a group of masked people in civilian dress attacked me and threw me to the ground. I tried to protect my equipment as I fell and ended up breaking by left wrist. I’m sure I was deliberately targeted because I’d been seen taking photos of the clashes between the police and demonstrators.”
These accounts show how violence has become routine for journalists covering demonstrations. Reporters Without Borders firmly condemns these attacks and urges the authorities to investigate them thoroughly, including those for which the police themselves were responsible. The Mexican state must guarantee the safety of journalists, who are performing a key function in the general interest.
Mexico is ranked 152nd out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.