In a letter to Reporters Without Borders on 22 September, the Taiwanese government voiced regret about “the obstacles which demonstrators caused to journalists in the course of their work on 16 September.” The letter also said the news media in Taiwan “must report different views with complete impartiality” and have the right to cover the news with complete security.
Journalists attacked by demonstrators
Reporters Without Borders today condemned physical attacks on four journalists by participants in a 25,000-strong demonstration in support of President Chen Shui-bian on 16 September, a day after an estimated 360,000 took part in a protest calling for the president’s resignation in the wake of a series of financial scandals allegedly involving his wife.
“We urge both the presidential and opposition camps to issue calls for calm on the part of their supporters and to take measures to avoid violence, in which journalists could be the victims,” Reporters Without Borders said, stressing the need for journalists to be able to cover the current political events with complete freedom.
During the pro-Chen demonstration, a group of participants threw bottles of water and umbrellas at presenter Huan Peng-Ren of satellite station CTi and then hit him, after he interviewed two parliamentary representatives of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party. His assailants apparently thought the parliamentarians should not have given an interview to a station considered sympathetic to the opposition Kuomintang party.
After smashing lighting and other equipment, the angry crowd attacked Chang Chong-Bin and Gao Wen-Yin of privately-owned ETTV when they tried to interview their CTi colleagues about the violence they had just undergone. Journalist Lee Ze-Ming of Formosa TV (FTV), which supports President Chen, was also manhandled by the crowd because he was wearing a red jacket, the colour of those campaigning for Chen’s resignation.
The Taipei Journalists Union (TJU) also condemned these attacks and called on the organisers of demonstrations to ensure the safety of journalists.