BUENOS AIRES – Photographers and journalists in Buenos Aires raised their cameras in protest this Friday against the arrest of two photojournalists while they were covering a demonstration last Wednesday.
Under the slogan “Photography is not a crime,” the protest with cameras raised high was staged at the entrance to the building adjoining the Argentine Congress and was called by the Buenos Aires Press Union (Sipreba) and the Association of Photojournalists of the Argentine Republic (ARGRA).
In the event, which was supported by some opposition lawmakers and representatives of human rights organizations, the protesters repudiated the detention for almost 11 hours of photographers Bernardino Avila and Juan Pablo Barrientos.
Both reporters were detained by Buenos Aires police while they were covering incidents that occurred during a protest of workers of the MadyGraf cooperative in front of the Argentine Congress.
“We were victims of a brutal aggression. We ended up prisoners for doing our job,” Avila told a press conference.
Barrientos demanded the right of the press to work “freely” in the streets and denounced the aggressions “that are constantly repeated” and make reporting the news “more of an uphill battle all the time.”
Besides Avila of the newspaper Pagina/12 and Barrientos of Critica magazine, two other demonstrators of the cooperative were detained who had been complaining about being excluded from a government call for bids.
This Thursday, Sipreba, AGRA and the Association of Cultural and Independent Magazines filed a defense of journalists in court “because their freedom of movement is being threatened.”
In presenting their case, they asked that the Argentine Security Ministry and security forces of the capital “abstain from acts that threaten or impede the freedom of movement” of journalists “while exercising their profession, especially when covering demonstrations and protests.”
In the appeal, they describe the arrests of the two reporters and the incidents of last Wednesday, when in addition, according to their complaint, the police punched a photojournalist for taking pictures of protesters being arrested.
“Such violence exercised by the state not only affects professional organizations and journalists, but also completely alters how the work of journalism is done, because under these conditions it is difficult to guarantee accurate news without putting at risk those who report it,” the statement presented to the court said.