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Mexico - Call for release of two journalists arrested during inauguration protests

Reporters Without Borders - Tue, 4 Dec 2012 17:02 GMT
Author: Reporters Without Borders
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Journalists were among the many victims when police and protesters clashed violently during President Enrique Peña Nieto's inauguration in Mexico City on 1 December, resulting in more than 80 arrests and leaving around 20 people seriously injured. Those arrested including two photographers - Mircea Topoleanu (photo), a 32-year-old Romanian freelancer, and Brandon Daniel Bazán, a freelancer working for the magazine Café MX. They are still being held in the city's Reclusorio Norte prison. Topoleanu's sister Ana, who also lives in Mexico, told Reporters Without Borders: "My brother was transferred to prison yesterday. He still has not had access to an individual lawyer. We hope the situation evolves today." Bazán has already been charged with disturbing the peace, which could mean a prison sentence. "We call for the immediate release of Topoleanu and Bazán, whose only crime was to have done their job amid considerable political tension directly linked to the controversy about the 1 July presidential election," Reporters Without Borders said. "Denying access to an individual lawyer is a violation of their constitutional rights and is in itself sufficient grounds for dismissing these proceedings, which are in any case quite absurd. "We condemn the violence against journalists regardless of who was responsible. What took place on 1 December should also be a warning for the federal government, which is already being contested although only just installed. The question now is what guarantees will fundamental freedoms be given during the next six years in a country with such an appalling human rights record?" The demonstrations began at about 5 a.m. near the Chamber of Deputies in San Lázaro Palace, where Nieto was sworn in for a six-year term. The protests then spread to the old city around the Zócalo Square, where there many clashes between police and demonstrators. "I was taking photos near the Chamber of Deputies when I heard someone fire a teargas grenade behind me, from where the police were," Excelsior photographer Quetzallí González told Reporters Without Borders. "I turned to look and was hit by a fragment in my left cheek, near my eye. Activists looked after me until the ambulance arrived. Then I went back to work." A photographer with the magazine Milenio, Ana Cecilia Méndez, was injured on the head by a teargas grenade while two other Milenio photographers, Alejandro González and Martin Salas, were beaten. Protesters took Reuters photographer Bernardo Montoya's motorcycle and immediately set fire to it in the street. The victims of violence, in many cases blamed on the police, included Christopher Rogel of the newspaper El Universal, Oscar Balderas of the magazine ADN Político, Paris Martinez of the magazine Animal Político, community radio reporter Alejandro Pacheco, Pedro Anza of Agencia Cuartoscuro and Efekto TV cameraman Osvaldo Muller. Some media buildings were also the targets of vandalism. The entrances to the Excelsior and Universal buildings were covered with graffiti while a group of demonstrators ransacked the entrance to Efekto TV. Read also the blog post on Huffington Post

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