Friday, May 25, 2007

Lebanon: Army imposes restrictions on coverage of northern clashes

"New York, May 25, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned that journalists have been prevented since Monday from entering a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon during clashes between Islamist militants and the Lebanese Army......

The Lebanese Army has not publicly explained the restriction, although officials initially told journalists that it was imposed for safety reasons. Reporters told CPJ that some journalists followed aid convoys into the camp Wednesday night to report on conditions, but the Lebanese Army quickly forced them out.

In addition, journalists said, the Lebanese Army forced journalists to move out of a nearby high-rise building that had been one of the main press locations. Officials cited safety reasons in moving them on Tuesday to a building that is farther away and has obstructed views. Journalists told CPJ that they suspected the army was also attempting to hinder coverage of the humanitarian crisis inside the camp where, according to news reports, more than a dozen civilians were killed and 12,000 refugees forced to flee the camp.....

Attacks against journalists were also reported. Al-Akhbar photographer Wael al-Ladifi, Al-Balad photographer Asad Ahmad, Agence France-Presse photographer Ramzy Haidar, and Al-Alam cameraman Ali Tahimi said they were beaten by members of the Lebanese Army on Thursday.

The journalists told CPJ that they were covering the exodus of thousands of Palestinian refugees to the nearby Beddawi camp when Lebanese soldiers warned them not to take images of the army. When Lebanese civilians supporting the army also attempted to obstruct the journalists, they said, an argument broke out. Soldiers intervened by taking al-Ladifi to an army tank where they beat him and accused him of being an Israeli spy, he told CPJ. An army captain tried to grab Ahmad’s camera and began beating him in front of several journalists and civilians. Soldiers then pointed their weapons and beat the journalists, they said......"


I wonder why the Hariri scribe, Robert Fisk, doesn't bother to report from inside these two camps (Baddawi and Nahr El-Bared), since he seems to have good relations with "the troops" and he always writes about how courteous and well-natured they are

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