PRI sympathizers shut down Oaxacan community radio station

[IFEX, via World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC)]

AMARC roundly condemns the acts of aggression which have forced the closure of Nandía community radio station, committed by Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI) sympathisers closely tied to the municipal high school in the community of Mazatlán de Villa de Flores, located in Oaxaca state. It also condemns the harassment of Radio Calenda community radio station, located in San Antonino, near Oaxaca city, by the president of the community council.

On 24 August 2006, local residents allied with powerful groups operating inside the Mazatlán high school, where Radio Nandía is located, violently assaulted and insulted the members of the station.

Later the same day, the electricity supply to the school was cut by the same people. When Radio Nandía personnel tried to verify what had happened, they were threatened and forced to leave. On 25 August, stations technicians went the facility, but could not go in because the door keyhole had been damaged.

Two days later, on 26 August, radio station staff again tried to enter the facilities, but the same assailants, this time armed, threatened to shoot them, thereby preventing them from entering.

Given these developments, Nandía had to suspend its broadcasts.

Radio station members attempted to file a complaint with the Mazatán de Villa de Flores branch of the Attorney General's Office (Ministerio Público), but found it closed, and therefore went to the city of Tuxtepec, Oaxaca, on 27 August to do so.

Meanwhile, AMARC has been informed that members of the Calenda community radio station, located in San Antonino, near Oaxaca city, have been harassed by the president of the town council, who has stated on a radio station located in the community of Ocotlan that several members of Radio Calenda radio station are being investigated. Radio Calenda members have asked the San Antonino branch of the Attorney General's Office for information regarding this, but have received no response.

Given the ineffectiveness of Oaxaca state institutions, which are currently incapable of impeding the harassment of these community radio stations, AMARC has asked the national interior governance secretary (Secretaría de Gobernación) to do the following:

1) Take whatever actions necessary to put an end to the harassment of Radio Nandía so that it can immediately resume broadcasting;

2) Express to the Attorney General's Office (Procuraduría General de la República) its support for the complaint filed by Radio Nandía members

3) Guarantee, in accordance with its powers, Radio Calenda's unimpeded exercise of its function of informing the public, without its personnel or facilities being the target of any kind of pressure by municipal or any other level of government's authorities.

The above requests are motivated by the fact that these incidents violate rights guaranteed by both the Constitution and international treaties, as well as the right to freedom of expression set out in Article 6 of the Mexican Constitution, Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Mexico is a signatory.

Their respective communities invested a great deal of time setting both radio stations up and negotiating to obtain their licenses in order to exercise their right to freedom of expression and information, and the stations are respected for the public service they provide. Therefore, it is extremely important that attacks by intransigent groups, with negative consequences for the communities involved, be prevented and that there be an end to the lack of action on the part of the authorities, so that new violations do not occur.

Send appeals to authorities:
- supporting AMARC-Mexico's requests

Carlos Abascal Carranza
Secretario de Gobernación
[National interior governance secretary]
Tel: +55 5093 3400

Pedro Cerisola y Weber
Secretario de Comunicaciones y Transportes
[Communications and transport secretary]
Fax: +55 19 06 92

Lic. Enrique Adolfo Aranda
Subsecretario de Normatividad de Medios
[Media regulations sub-secretary]
Secretaría de Gobernación
Tel: +55 55 35 69 15

Actuaria Eugenia del Carmen Diez Hidalgo
Jefa de la Unidad de Promoción y Defensa de los Derechos Humanos de la Secretaría de Gobernación
[National interior governance secretary's human rights promotion and defence unit chief]
Fax: 51280223

Daniel Francisco Cabeza de Vaca
[Attorney General]
Procurador General de la República
Tel: 56 55 25 95, Ext. 202 / 56 55 25 95 Ext. 210

Mario Álvarez Ledesma
Subprocurador de Derechos Humanos
[Deputy attorney general for human rights]
Fax: +53464382

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