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Media women in Kenya condemn attacks on journalists covering maandamano

The Association for Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) condemned the attacks on journalists covering the maandamano (demonstrations) led by the opposition leaders allied to the Azimio La Umoja-One Kenya Alliance.

In their statement, the Executive Director of the Organization, Patience Nyange, said they were gravely concerned with the various incidents of attacks on journalists by criminal elements and the police on duty in the ongoing biweekly opposition maandamanos.

“We strongly condemn their actions, especially the police force that are expected as part of their mandatory duty, to provide security to journalists and ensure their safety without threats and violence.

Also read: #MaandamanoMondays: The history of teargas

“Free and objective media is an essential component of our democracy. It allows journalists to fulfill their crucial role as objective and unbiased information sources.

Therefore, the attacks on journalists today violate human rights, curtail public access to information and lead to the erosion of press freedom,” said Ms Nyange.

She added that AMWIK intended to continue mobilizing efforts with other media stakeholders to push for a safer and enabling working environment for journalists.

“We commend the brave journalists who risk their lives on the frontline to ensure a well-informed society. Our teams are on standby to offer assistance to female journalists across the country who are covering the protests,” concluded Ms Nyange.

Nairobi News reported that NTV Kenya’s journalist, Winnie Chepkemoi, was attacked by goons while covering the Monday, March 27, 2023, opposition demonstrations in Kapsoit, Kericho County.

Also read: WATCH: Creator of viral Maandamano Kibera ‘movie’ speaks

In the afternoon, as demonstrators gained momentum, chaos ensued and Ms Chepkemoi ordered for a taxi to rush her to the scene of the chaos.

“Once I reached there, I saw people from the community moving around searching the vehicles and I quickly pulled out my camera to capture the scene.

While I was still capturing the scene, I heard the rowdy youths saying that I was one of the enemies. One man asked me ‘Who are you?’,” explained Ms Chepkemoi as she revealed they did not want to hear anything from her despite identifying herself as a journalist.

The rowdy youth turned on her, harassing and beating her down several times and injuring her leg.

She was later rushed to a Kericho hospital for treatment and reported the incident to the police.

Her initial reactions after the attack were caught on camera, and the video went viral on social media, showing her shaken up and crying as she told someone of what had happened to her.

On March 30, 2023, maandamano, unarmed journalists, were also attacked when a plains cloth police officer broke the windows of a car carrying a media team and lobbed tear gas into the vehicle.

Also read: Maandamano day means no learning at Moi Avenue Primary

The incident was captured on camera, and the opposition called on Kenyans to help them identify who the officer was.

Also read: #MaandamanoThursdays: Mariga denies planning Kibra chaos

NTV’s Eric Isinta was later emerged from the vehicle spotting facial injuries, with extremely swollen, bloody and disfigured faces.

There has been widespread condemnation from the opposition regarding the response of law enforcement authorities to demonstrators on the streets.

In some instances, the police used live bullets to disperse protesters instead of anti-demonstration tools, including water cannons, tear gas and blank bullets.

Also read: The cost of Azimio’s maandamano