More media freedom violations feared in protests called for today and tomorrow

18.10.2011 - Santiago - Reporters Sans Frontières

The concern is justified by the many cases of abuses by police and
*”carabineros”* at previous demonstrations [,40995.html](,40995.html).
Chile’s *”carabineros”* are part of the armed forces.

In a statement sent to Reporters Without Borders, the union complains of the
many deliberate attacks by police against photographers and cameramen, as
well as arrests, during recent demonstrations. The statement cites the cases
of three journalists in particular:

– *Rodrigo Cisternas*, a photographer for the daily *La Tercera*, who was
targeted by riot police using a kind of water canon known in Chile as a

– *Chilevisión* cameraman *Luis Narvaez*, who was attacked by Special Forces
and then detained for no clear reason.

– Photographer *Cristian Opazo*, who had tear-gas fired directly in his

The statement also mentioned the case of *EFE* photographer *Victor Salas*,
who lost an eye after being hit repeatedly with a baton by a member of the *
carabinero* police while covering a teachers demonstrations in Valparaíso in
May 2008. The *carabinero* involved was never punished.

The *carabineros* do not like being filmed or photographed by media
personnel or by students who provide their own coverage of the protests.
History student Nicolás Salazar was attacked by *carabineros* after he
filmed them attacking another student during a campus protest at the
University of Concepción on 29 September [](

The students involved filed a complaint about the use of violence. A
complaint was also filed by the Chilean Correspondents’ Association
about *Inter
Press Service* photographer *Fernando Fiedler*’s arbitrary detention and the
seizure of his equipment after he photographed police violence on 6 October.

*“We call for these abuses to be fully investigated and we urge the armed
forces not to obstruct the enquiries,”* Reporters Without Borders said. The
Union of Photographers and Cameramen is right to point to the Victor Salas
case as a shocking example of impunity.

*“Gestures are needed to reassure all the journalists covering the
demonstrations, regardless of the media they work for. One such gesture
would be the immediate abandonment of a controversial bill that would have
the effect of turning journalists into police informers [,41137.html](,41137.html

Following last week’s visit to Chile by UN special rapporteur for freedom of
expression Frank La Rue [](, UN Deputy
High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang is visiting Chile this
week and is due to meet with student organizations and representatives of
the Mapuche indigenous community, whose media have also been harassed [,40290.html](,40290.html).

Reporters Without Borders hopes that she will help the Chilean authorities
to hear and understand the widespread calls from the population for more
consultation on major social issues and for media sector reforms.

Categories: Politics, South America


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