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Reporters Without Borders condemns the threats and physical attacks against journalists by both demonstrators and police during Independence Day protests in Brasilia and other cities on 7 September. The Brasilia Federal District government has requested the creation of a special commission to investigate the violence.
"The military police were already guilty of serious physical violence against journalists in the course the ‘Brazil Spring' protests and the demonstrations during the pope's visit," Reporters Without Borders said. "Such behaviour will keep recurring if it is not punished. The same goes for violence by demonstrators.
"We are aware of the need for a rational debate about the media bias denounced by many Brazilian citizens but this problem does not mean it is acceptable to physically attack reporters who are sent to cover demonstrations. Criticism of the media does in any way legitimize the use of violence."
Speaking to reporters, Brasilia military police chief Jooziel de Melo claimed: "Certain isolated and insignificant actions will be punished but none of these actions eclipsed the splendour and bravery of the public security services, who have ensured that today's events unfolded in the most orderly fashion."
But in Brasilia, teargas was fired at journalists during the dispersal of a crowd outside the offices of the national TV station Globo. At the same time, journalists filming the event were the targets of hostility from demonstrators.
Military police set dogs on a group of protesters and journalists as they were retreating towards the national stadium. Reuters photographer Ueslei Marcelino injured a knee as he tried to flee. Fábio Braga, a photographer with the Folha de São Paulo newspaper, was attacked by dogs without sustaining any serious injury.
And military police deliberately fired teargas at several journalists such as Folha photographer Marlene Bergamo and Agencia Brasil reporter Luciano Nascimento although they were clearly identified as journalists.
In Rio de Janeiro, demonstrators attacked a TV Globo crew while O Estado de São Paulo photographer Marcos de Paula was hit by a teargas canister. In São Paulo, photographer Tércio Teixeira was slightly injured by a teargas canister fired by a policeman. In Manaus, one person was arrested for attacking two journalists during the protests.<br/>