17 July 2012

Mali: Reporters Without Borders Backs One-Day Media Strike

Photo: Makan Kone/Facebook
Journalists in Mali have observed a "news blackout" and marched in the capital, Bamako, to protest against kidnappings and beatings of journalists.

Reporters Without Borders voices its support for the one-day strike planned by Mali's media for tomorrow, when radio stations will suspend broadcasting and no newspapers will be printed. In a show of solidarity, the organization issues a call for an end to the constant media freedom violations of the past four months.

Journalists and other protesters will set off at 9 a.m. from the headquarters of the daily L'Indépendant and march to the prime minister's office. The Press and Communication Union of Malians in France (UPCOM-F) will meanwhile stage a sit-in at 2 p.m. outside the Malian embassy in Paris.

The protests are being organized in response to the severe beating that L'Indépendant editor Saouti Haidara received from a group of armed men on 12 July. After initial treatment in Bamako, Haidara was flown the next day to the Senegalese capital of Dakar for more extensive medical tests.

As well as demonstrating support for Haidara, the protest organizers want to send a clear signal to those responsible for the current transition in Mali. "The authorities must offer security guarantees to journalists," Bamako press club president Makan Koné told Reporters Without Borders, adding that he wanted a "real commitment" from the government.

Referring to the government in Bamako, Koné told Agence France-Presse: "All the participants in the current transition must accept their responsibility [because it was] a deliberately organized reprisal operation against the Malian media, which were just doing their work. It is democracy that these people want to kill."

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