Bolivia - Anger as rioters stone studios of public tv and radio stations during a demonstration in Sucre



    MONTREAL, March 27 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders today
condemned attacks by gangs of hooded rioters who stoned the premises of public
radio Patria Nueva and Canal 7 Televisisn Bolivia in the country's
constitutional capital, Sucre on 25 March.
    The two media were targeted by demonstrators opposed to President Evo
Morales, protesting at the recent appointment by the La Paz government of
interim prefect, Ariel Iriarte, to the department of Chuquisaca, southern
Bolivia.
    Some 150 youths, most of them hooded, hurled sticks of dynamite at the
Prefecture building, vandalised offices and threatening officials, before
turning their violence against Patria Nueva and Canal 7 Televisisn Bolivia,
which they accuse of campaigning for a new constitution and against the
region's claim for autonomy.
    Government head of communications, Gastsn Nunez, told Agence
France-Presse that Patria Nueva had been able to resume broadcasting unlike
Canal 7 Televisisn Bolivia, which is still off air because of serious damage
to broadcast equipment.
    "We add our protest to that of the Association of La Paz journalists
(APLP) against these unacceptable acts of vandalism which interrupted
programmes on Patria Nueva and Canal 7 Televisisn Bolivia", the worldwide
press freedom organisation said.
    "Whether a media is publicly or privately-owned, is pro-government or
pro-opposition, it should not have to pay the price of political
score-settling, particularly when it turns violent. We hope that an
investigation will quickly find out who was responsible for these attacks,
which are also an assault on pluralism of opinion.
    "In this politically-charged climate we urge all organisations of every
tendency to respect the work of journalists," Reporters Without Borders
concluded.
    The post of prefect had been vacant since the resignation in November of
David Sanchez, supporter of a government faced with strong local demands for
autonomy. Ariel Iriarte has been appointed provisionally ahead of elections
due on 29 June 2008.
    Political instability in the country, worsened by deep divisions over the
constitutional process, was behind numerous attacks on the media in 2007,
particularly in departments governed by the opposition.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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