Monday, 11 November 2013

Land, Military and Journalism in Mozambique

AIM is reporting that a local TV station in Southern Mozambique will take legal action after two of their journalists were attacked, beaten and arrested by members of the Mozambican armed forces. The journalists were covering a protest over disputed land. The local people claim the land belongs to them. The ongoing dispute has turned violent with soldiers assaulting local people who wander to close to their barracks:
They said that anyone who goes near the disputed land is attacked, and people who had suffered such aggression on Thursday, some of them in tears, showed the reporters their injuries."I was passing by the barracks",said a woman named Rosalina Mandlate. "I was just going to deliver a suitcase to my sister, but I was beaten up".Tiane Elisabeth said she had met soldiers on the road "who asked me what I was doing walking in that area. I kept quiet and they began to hit me".
This takes place as Mozambique builds up to municipal elections on 20 November amidst increased tension after opposition Renamo pulled out of a 1992 peace treaty (DM analysis here), which may increase the power of the military. Conflict with Renamo is mostly confined far further north in the country, however, near the Zimbabwe border and certainly cannot be an excuse for the army taking violent action against civilians and journalists.

Update: The military has now responded with their version of events

I particularly like the line: “faced with the resistance of the cameraman, Cláudio Timana, incited by the members of the public, the situation slipped out of the control of the garrison, and culminated in acts of physical violence between the public, the soldiers and the TIM crew”. Right.

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