Ver Angola


MISA Angola protests against pressure on journalist teams

The law organization MISA Angola issued Sunday a communiqué in which it protests against the attempts of pressure on a TV Zimbo team during the coverage of a UNITA initiative in Luanda, which took place on Saturday.


The protest note, signed by the president of the board of governors, André Mussamo, the Institute for Media in Southern Africa (MISA Angola), "deems serious any attitude, whether implicit or explicit, by acts or omissions that aim to transfer, on this class of professionals, some form of anger or fight between the protagonists of the political dispute, putting at risk valuable human lives, technical means and materials for professional use".

The communiqué also calls for the "leaderships to opt, in their speeches and actions, for the premise of making it clear that it will not be and never was through the harassment of teams of journalists that the desired result will be achieved".

The text also stresses that "urbanity and respect for the work of anyone who is called upon by the very dynamics of life in a democratic society, as is the case of journalists, even if differences persist should and must be a culture inculcated in everyone".

MISA Angola also calls for situations involving the performance of "servants of the law" and the "guarantees of a balanced journalistic coverage" to be discussed "in appropriate forums and channels, in search of solutions to everyone's satisfaction".

Previously, and still on Sunday, the Union of Journalists of Angola (SJA) had already repudiated the threats against journalists from the public channels TPA and TV Zimbo who were trying to cover a UNITA march and said that they are not responsible for the positioning of their organizations.

The media professionals were intimidated and threatened by demonstrators while covering the march that brought together thousands of supporters and sympathizers of UNITA and other opposition parties, as well as members of civil society on Saturday in Luanda, demanding fair, free and transparent elections.

"The SJA vehemently condemns this attitude and qualifies it as an obstruction to the exercise of press freedom which is a fundamental right that all public and private entities must respect," the union's president, Teixeira Cândido, told Lusa.

When asked to comment on a statement issued by the Ministry of Telecommunications, Information Technology and Media (MINTTICS), which deplored the aggression and intimidation to which the reporting teams were subjected, expressing solidarity with the journalists and calling on the entities defending journalists not to be silent "in the face of the flagrant and reprehensible situation of political intolerance", Teixeira Cândido considered that it was "unreasonable".

"It was misplaced, first of all, regarding the reference to the entities that defend the class, as if they needed a boost. The SJA has always defended journalists, affiliated or not, and has always expressed its solidarity" he said.

Teixeira Cândido also found it strange that MINTTICS "is only releasing a statement now" and has never spoken out on other occasions.

"We have had several situations where journalists have been assaulted, detained or prevented from doing their work and the Ministry has not spoken out. So it was a surprise," said the head of the SJA.

The union leader expressed concern about the risks to which journalists are exposed and said that UNITA should also ensure the protection of journalists: "given the climate that we are living should ask the police to make a security cordon", he suggested.

The president of UNITA, Adalberto da Costa Júnior, addressed his supporters on Saturday, criticizing the acts of intolerance against the public press, saying that "journalists are not guilty of censorship on public television".

"The journalists who are here covering this act take the images, then if the images don't get through (it) comes from higher orders, so the acts of intolerance should not continue," he appealed.

The two state-owned channels deplored the intimidation and assault attempts that the journalists were victims of.

TPA complained of intolerance, saying that the journalist covering the event had to go undercover to avoid being identified.

In a note from the management, the public channel stressed that UNITA requested journalist coverage of the initiative, but that, once on the spot, the members of the reporting team "faced a series of insults and verbal and physical attacks, threatening" to their physical and moral integrity.

"More than repudiating such aggression, TPA notes with concern that a political party sees the journalists as adversaries and transfers to them frustrations over the failure of disputes with their real opponents," reads the document, in which the channel also warns of the danger that this type of behavior represents for the consolidation of democratic values.

TPA also stresses that "as long as UNITA's leadership does not publicly retract its statement, TPA reserves the right to protect its journalists by not sending teams to cover activities initiated by this party".

As for the reporter from TV Zimbo (a channel that belonged to the private group Medianova and was nationalized under the program to recover assets built with pubic funds for the Angolan state) he was the target of intimidation when he was preparing to make a live.

"This Saturday, sympathizers, militants and friends of UNITA did not let the journalists of TV Zimbo do their work, endangering the physical integrity of the reporters, who were forced to interrupt the coverage and live broadcast on the newspaper at 1 p.m. and that even deserved the opening of the respective newscast," the information management said in a statement.

The channel also asked UNITA "to have a culture of peace and citizenship, and to guide its militants, sympathizers to respect the values enshrined in the Constitution.

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