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Action Needed To Protect Journalists In Fiji

MEDIACOM-RELEASE-COMMONWEALTH-PRESS-UNION

SYDNEY, 29 May /MediaNet International-AsiaNet/--The Australian Section of The Commonwealth Press Union today called on Fiji's President Ratu Kamisese Mara and both sides in the Fijian power struggle to do everything in their power to protect international and local journalists reporting on the crisis.

While it is clear that the situation is confused and deteriorating, the preservation of a flow of accurate information to Fiji citizens and the outside world is paramount.

The CPU in particular holds serious fears for the journalists from the local newspapers, The Fiji Times and The Fiji Post, and local radio, following the ransacking of the State television studios on Sunday night.

Already one international newsman, Associated Press cameraman Jerry Harmer, has been wounded in skirmishes between the Army and terrorists.

The chairman of the Australian Section of the CPU, Warren Beeby, called on the President and the Great Council of Chiefs and the supporters of George Speight to make protection of journalists a priority.

He also urged the Australian Government to use its influence to see that this protection was forthcoming.

Mr Beeby said journalists, photographers and cameramen were showing incredible bravery in reporting events when disapproval of their reports might well lead to reprisals.

Fiji was a young and vibrant democracy, and is a close neighbour and trading partner of Australia, and for this reason accurate, unhindered reporting of the emergency is as much in Australia's interest as Fiji's.

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