PORT MORESBY (Asia Pacific Report/ Pacific Media Watch): The Media Council of Papua New Guinea has condemned a police assault on a woman journalist during yesterday's confrontation between University of Papua New Guinea students and the police force in which eight people were wounded in gunfire.
National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) journalist Rose Amos was kicked and punched by two police officers yesterday morning during the protest.
"Amos ran towards the police for cover only to be punched by a heavily armed policeman and kicked by another, resulting in her losing her balance and falling," MCPNG president Alexander Rheeney said in a statement.
"Even her wearing of an NBC-logo shirt did not stop the assault, with a third policeman punching her again before a senior police officer intervened and took her to a RPNGC Toyota Land Cruiser vehicle."
The MCPNG said it "condemns in the strongest possible terms" the assault of the NBC journalist this morning by three members of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC).
“It is unacceptable conduct and criminal for the three policemen to assault Amos as she fled for cover from the melee," Rheeney said.
"In such a situation it would have been natural for the journalist to seek the protection of the law. But sadly, in this instance, they turned out to be the perpetrators and attack the very people they swore an oath to protect.”
The use of firearms targeting unarmed peaceful demonstrators was also unacceptable and warranted an immediate investigation in order to determine who fired the first shot and whether their actions were justified, said Rheeney.
“If Papua New Guineans want to embark on a peaceful demonstration to air their grievances on issues of concern then why use firearms?"
"Papua New Guineans have the right to express themselves so why silence them with the use of firearms?
”The assault [on] Amos comes a week after another journalist, Imelda Wavik of the commercial TV station TVWAN, was assaulted by a plain-clothes policeman at the Boroko Police Station.
“The increasing frequency in violence targeting journalists and mainly perpetrated by members of the constabulary does not augur well for the community.
"It is time for the Police Commissioner to address ill-discipline within the rank and file in the RPNGC and to arrest officers, whose shameful conduct continues to tarnish the image of the constabulary,” said Rheeney.
The MCPNG urged all the parties caught up in the university student protests to exercise restraint and to refrain from using violence.
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