Madagascar - Dismay at fatal shooting of TV reporter covering anti-government demonstration



    MONTREAL, Feb. 9 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders is shocked to
learn that Ando Ratovonirina of privately-owned Radio et Télévision Analamanga
(RTA) was shot dead while covering an anti-government demonstration outside
the presidential palace in Antananarivo on 7 February. The 25-year-old
reporter and cameraman was among the scores of people who were killed or
wounded when security forces opened fired on the protesters.
    "Like all those mourning an unnecessary death, our first thoughts are for
the victim's family as well as for the RTA staff, who are traumatised by the
loss of their young colleague," Reporters Without Borders said. "We hail the
courage of independent journalists who do their best to cover the political
unrest in Madagascar despite threats, intimidation and a disturbing level of
violence. It is not right that a journalist should have to pay with his life
for trying to report the news for his fellow citizens."
    Ratovonirina was part of the RTA team covering a large demonstration
organised by Antananarivo mayor Andry Rajoelina on 7 February to call for the
replacement of President Marc Ravalomanana's government. He was shot in the
head when members of the presidential guard opened fire on demonstrators as
they surged towards the presidential palace. His body was immediately taken to
Ravoahangy Hospital, where a doctor said he had been killed by a "gunshot
wound behind the ear."
    Fellow RTA journalists Heritina Ny Anjarason and Mirindra Raparivelo were
with Ratovonirina at the time of the shooting.
    Anjarason told Reporters Without Borders: "Ando was holding a microphone
and was taking notes while Mirindra had a small camera. A delegation
representing the mayor had gone to talk to the soldiers guarding the palace.
When it returned, we approached the mayor's chief of staff, Gen. Dolin, to
interview him about the outcome of the negotiations. We had not yet reached
Gen. Dolin and we had our backs to the palace when the shooting started. We
threw ourselves to the ground but Ando was hit all the same."
    RTA editor in chief Andry Raveloson told Reporters Without Borders: "Ando
died while on the job, as a result of his dedication to journalism. We decided
to broadcast only a shortened version of the news programme as a tribute to
him."
    Ratovonirina had only recently completed his journalism studies and had
been working for RTA for three months. He was previously a photographer for
the La Gazette de la Grande Ile daily newspaper and used to write for the
Tophos news agency under the pseudonym of Hathor.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4188, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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