The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), condemns alleged police violence against Kosovo freelance photojournalist Vedat Xhymshiti. On Saturday 14
January, the reporter was covering clashes between demonstrators and Kosovo police near the Merdare border crossing between Serbia and Kosovo, when he was struck by policemen. He lost conscioussness but was not hospitalised. The attack was filmed.
The 14 January protests were organised by the Vetevendosje Movement whose members gathered in order to impede the free flow of goods between Serbia and Kosovo at the Merdare and Dheu i Bardhe border crossings. Vetevendosje opposes contact with Serbia. The police prevented the demonstrators from reaching border crossings. There were clashes, and injuries on both sides.
Xhymshiti told SEEMO that he saw a citizen on the ground being beaten by policemen. He was about to take a photo when he was assaulted.
"I call on the police authorities to investigate and sanction those who attacked Xhymshiti", said Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General. "Vedat Xhymshiti was carrying filming equipment when the police attacked him. It was clear that he was a journalist. Beating a journalist is a direct attack on press freedom."