A journalists group has condemned what it said was harassment of media personnel during yesterday's red shirts rally in downtown Kuala Lumpur.
"At least five media personnel were subjected to racial slurs and harassed by the red shirts rally participants," said the group Gerakan Media Marah (Geramm) in a statement today.
The group said a reporter and cameraman from Astro’s Chinese channel AEC were heckled by a group of protesters after they asked a Malay demonstrator to comment, “ Apa contoh Melayu dihina ?” (Please give an example how the Malays were insulted).
"They were later escorted off by police," said Geramm.
The group said two female reporters from The Star were also harassed with calls of "keling bangsat” and “bangsat Cina” while covering the standoff between protesters and the police at Petaling Street.
"A female reporter from Malaysiakini was called 'Cina gila babi' after she had attempted to ask questions to the crowd gathering at Petaling Street.
"Crowds also reportedly threatened media personnel during the standoff, hurling sexually tinged words, threats, racial slurs and outright vulgar words," added Geramm.
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The group said there were also unconfirmed reports of a Chinese photographer who was allegedly kicked by a protester.
The group said such attacks against the media was "unacceptable".
"Especially in these cases, where it was purely based on the person’s race, religion or gender."
The group said journalists should be allowed to carry out their duties without impediment and that they be respected.
Geramm said the police were commendable in the way they handled yesterday's rally, that saw approximately 50,000 gather in the heart of Kuala Lumpur to protest the Bersih 4 rally, which the organisers blamed on the Chinese.
"Geramm would like to express gratitude to the police for the professional way they handled the demonstration, and whose presence not only kept the peace but helped ensure the safety of media personnel," they said.