International organisations have expressed their grave concern at the violence carried out against journalists and media workers covering the on-going protests in Ukraine.
According to the OSCE more than 40 journalists representing national and international media outlets have been physically assaulted and injured whilst covering the public protests in Kiev. Dunja Mijatović, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, spoke today of her worries of the magnitude of violence.
“I am especially concerned that in most of the cases, the beatings were reportedly conducted by the law enforcement officers who attacked the journalists and disregarded their press identification. Violence against journalists cannot be tolerated”, Mijatović wrote in a letter to OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara.
The Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) has also spoken out against the violence, urging the President and government of the Ukraine to stop the unlawful actions taken against their colleagues: “Being in the centre of events is a journalists’ job, but not a reason to try brutal force on them. We call on the authorities to investigate each incident of attack on our colleagues, and to ensure normal conditions for journalists’ work. Absence of reaction to the violence looks like connivance.”
According to the BAJ cameramen, correspondents, photographers and journalists from organisation including Euronews, the Associated Press and Insider have all been attacked by officers of security squads whilst covering the protests.
Any response by the OSCE has been complicated by the fact that Ukraine is the 2013 Chairman of the international security organisation. A statement issued today by the international Civic Solidarity platform, as participants of the OSCE civil society parallel conference, stated: “violence, threats, the beating of activists and journalists causing serious injury, arbitrary arrests, forced disappearances and court restraining orders that restrict the freedom of peaceful assembly – these form only a partial list of the phenomena we have witnessed in recent days not only in Kiev, but in other Ukrainian cities as well.”
Protestors have been calling for the resignation of the government since November after the Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, refused to sign a deal on closer EU ties.