Citizens of Sofia took to the streets on September 2nd to protest against corruption and abuse of power. Dissatisfied with the government led by Boyko Borisov and Chief Prosecutor Ivan Geshev, they demanded her resignation. According to eyewitness reports, police used excessive violence against protesters, journalists and media workers, something that is increasingly being seen in Europe.
The European Center for Freedom of the Press and Media said police used indiscriminate tear gas against journalists from various media outlets covering the protests. As a result, many media workers have sought medical help.
“Journalists and media workers play a vital role in covering public protests, ensuring independent control of all movements and reinforcing the importance of the fundamental right to protest and free assembly. ECPMF calls on Bulgarian authorities to fully and transparently investigate all reported cases of excessive use of force against journalists and bring them to justice. ”
Freelance journalist Dimitar Kenarov crawled across the sidewalk, was kicked in the face and head, and his camera was damaged. Despite the fact that he consistently identified himself as a journalist and had a clear visible “PRESS” sign on his mask, this was ignored by the authorities. He was handcuffed to the ground for hours before being taken to a police station where he received a warning and was later released.
The same scenario was encountered by Albania at the beginning of this year, the police used force against journalists who reported on the demolition of the National Theater and the numerous protests that were previously organized in its defense. Several journalists were attacked and detained while covering the event. Also, during the anti-government protests of 2019, tear gas was used against citizens as well as journalists who reported from the field causing incidents. Police allegedly attacked media workers.