Community radio broadcasters beaten, one arrested in Oaxaca conflict

[via International Freedom of Expression Exchange]

Between the night of 24 January and the morning of 25 January 2007, a confrontation erupted between militants of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Institucional Revolucionario, PRI) and members of the grassroots community council of San Antonino de Velasco, in the state Oaxaca. During the incident, Emilio Santiago and Darío Campos, both of whom are journalists from Radio Calenda community radio station, were brutally beaten and one of them was arrested, despite having both clearly identified themselves as journalists performing their duties. Another dozen people from the community were also arrested.

AMARC (the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters) condemns these acts of violence, which are aimed at silencing those exercising the right to freedom of expression in order to inform society of events and opinions that are of public interest. Radio Calenda community radio station is a member of AMARC-México.

This incident is yet another in a series of violent acts which have occurred in Oaxaca, in particular in San Antonino de Velasco (see IFEX alerts of 7 and 3 November, 30 and 6 October, 31 and 28 August 2006, and others), contributing to social polarization and an increase in tension, which further reduces the likelihood that a peaceful resolution will be found to the current conflict.

AMARC reiterates that these acts of violence are caused by the failure to address the root causes of the conflict in Oaxaca. The Mexican state has not only failed to fulfil its role of promoting peaceful solutions, it has, on the contrary, contributed to an intensification of the violence, by both its acts of omission and its direct involvement in human rights violations - for example, the excessive use of force, attacks on freedom of expression, association and assembly, and violations of the codes of conduct of security bodies - which have all been widely documented by various human rights organizations.

Therefore, AMARC supports the demands of various organizations, including the Oaxacan Human Rights Network (Red Oaxaqueña de Derechos Humanos), that the Mexican state guarantee the security and the physical and psychological safety of the members of the community of San Antonino Castillo Velasco, and that it investigate and punish those found responsible for the assaults, which left seven people seriously injured.

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