The unprecedented injuries and distress caused to journalists on duty during the Bersih 3.0 has prompted them to petition the government for a public apology and compensation.
The petition was organised two days after the Bersih rally, when 12 editors and journalists issued a joint statement condemning the acts of intimidation and violence against journalists.
The protest petition that will be addressed to the Prime Minister, Home Minister and the Inspector-General of Police, is expected to be delivered to the government on Monday, May 14, 2012.
The journalistic community has expressed shock and is deeply saddened by the violent and targeted assault on members of the community.
It expresses outrage at the unprecedented injuries and distress caused to journalists on duty, the loss of images that were erased from data storage cards, and the confiscation or damage to equipment.
More than a dozen reporters and photographers have reported being assaulted by police, manhandled or intimidated, with cameras being confiscated or damaged and data storage cards erased.
The petition also points out the contradiction between the assaults and the government’s moves towards greater press freedom.
“An attack on journalists is an attack on freedom of the press, and “there can be no freedom of press without the freedom to report fully, impartially, and safely.” the petition says.
The petition, endorsed by journalists on May 3, makes four demands of the government:
1. Make a full public apology to all journalists for injuries and distress caused while carrying out their duties, provide full restitution of equipment damaged or lost, and make adequate compensation;
2. Conduct an immediate, independent and impartial inquiry into the events of April 28, 2012, and bring to justice all those responsible for violence against journalists;
3. Take all measures to ensure the safety of journalists covering public events; and
4. Ensure that journalists are not hampered by the authorities or subjected interference or intimidation aimed at curtailing their ability to provide the Malaysian people with full and fair reports of current events.
The petition has been supported by more than 4,000 people out of which over 300 are members of the journalistic community; 1,472 are journalists represented by the National Union of Journalists Peninsular Malaysia and more than 2,400 members of
Signatures for the petition were obtained both online and in person at several newsrooms, and at a World Press Freedom Day gathering at the National Press Club in Kuala Lumpur on May 3, attended by more than 80 journalists and supporters.
The gathering endorsed the petition and also adopted a resolution to form a professional association, the Institute of Journalists Malaysia (Pertubuhan Wartawan Malaysia) to raise standards of professionalism, promote free and fair journalism, and uphold freedom of the press.