NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 3- The role of a journalist is to inform, entertain and educate the public without fear or favour but at all times being objective and factual.
But where should the ‘voice of the voiceless’ turn when police and the public turn against them?
It was the case on Thursday when police turned their guns on journalists, who were only armed with their note books, cameras and pens, leaving them to scamper for safety.
A group of about 30 local and international journalists had joined protestors at the Freedom corner in Uhuru Park, with a sole purpose of covering the anti-graft demonstrations that organised by Boniface Mwangi-led PAWA 254 and the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC).
The group was violently dispersed as soon as they started marching towards Kenyatta Avenue roundabout.
As soon as the protestors had left the Park, journalists who had been following the police found themselves in a fix.
Trouble started when an unidentified officer attempted to hit one of the camera people who were capturing events as it unfolded.
His baton was up on the air ready to land on him but the rest of the journalists came to his rescue.
“Stop attacking journalists, we have a right to do our job,” they shouted, slowing the visibly angered officer.
Another group of anti-riot officers were watching at a distance from their vehicle and when the group of journalists tried to complain to one of the senior officers, they lobbed teargas towards them.
This didn’t however deter the journalists and they went back to the officer who was now heading to his vehicle and sought explanation while demanding that he brief them over the matter.
Once again, the cops dispersed them.
“Why are they doing this to us?” Kevin Gitau, a photo journalist with Capital FM asked.
“Why are they firing tear gas at me and I’m only trying to do my job, plus we haven’t done anything to provoke them…how are we caught in the middle of this?”
Miano Muchiri, also a Capital FM journalists explained the turn of events.
“We came to cover the protest. It all went to lose; teargas was lobed all the way across Uhuru Park. The cops completely disregarded the work of journalists. That is completely outrageous. It is ridiculous.
If the police are going to do this, what are the journalists supposed to do? We were not part of protestors.”
Others also registered their disappointments while calling on the Government to ensure Journalists are protected while in the line of duty.
“This has never happened,” one said in disgust.
It was not over yet since a group of youths- about 50- entered at Uhuru Park and started hurling stones at the journalists.
They were however dispersed by the police-now in our support- before they inflicted injuries on them.