Tripoli, 6 May:
Journalists from Libya TV and the Libyan TV channel Al-Asima have staged protests following recent attacks on reporters.
The most . . .[restrict]prominent were when journalists from Al-Asima were attacked last week while covering demonstrations held at a voter registration centre. This attack has raised concerns for the future freedom of media in Libya.
Abdul-Hamid Alhasada, a reporter for the Al-Asima Channel, and his cameraman were physically assaulted while covering protests. The two had gone to a voter registration centre in Tripoli’s Gurji area and were surprised to find a group of armed thuwar staging a protest outside the building. Initially, there was a discusion between the Al-Asima team and the commander of the thuwar. Then, according to Alhasadi, their “camera was taken and (they) were also prevented from taking any photos. They [the thuwar] were throwing abusive and vulgar words at (them) and humiliated the channel team.” The attackers, who have been called “Replica Revolutionaries” (i.e. false revolutionaries), were also preventing people from registering. However, they claimed reporters from the Qatari-based Al-Jazeera channel were allowed to film freely and conduct interviews.
Employees and management of Al-Asima have issued a statement condemning the attack and have stated that it is an indication of a serious threat against freedom of the press in Libya and against the lives of journalists. The statement urged the security forces to take all necessary action to protect journalists and media workers, noting that what happened to Alhasada may be just the beginning and that journalists may be a target for future attacks.
In another recent incident journalist, Huda Alghitani and her team, also from Al-Asima, were attacked and prevented from filming at the Agricultural Bank. In this incident, a journalist was assaulted by bank personnel after a verbal confrontation in the presence of the bank manager.
“We thought that the era of exclusion of the press and the media was over, but it seems we were wrong,” Alghitani said. [/restrict]