8 April 2008
Two female indigenous radio station broadcasters murdered in ambush of crew in Oaxaca
Felicitas Martínez Sánchez, Teresa Bautista Merino
(ARTICLE 19/CENCOS/IFEX) - Two announcers of La Voz que Rompe el Silencio community radio station, which is based in San Juan Copala, Oaxaca state, in southeast Mexico, were shot dead when traveling on the highway connecting Joya del Mamey to Putla de Guerrero, two settlements in Oaxaca. Dead are Felicitas Martínez Sánchez, 21, and Teresa Bautista Merino, 24. Four other people were wounded.
According to information released by the Centro de Apoyo Comunitario Trabajando Unidos A.C. (CACTUS) - a civil society organisation that works in the area, the ambush took place between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m. (local time) on 7 April 2008. According to media reports, the police found at least 20 spent AK-47 bullet cartridges at the scene of the crime.
La Voz que Rompe el Silencio has been broadcasting since January 2007, the date of the first anniversary of the declaration of the autonomous municipality of Copala. The majority of the people involved in the project are young adults and teenagers from the Triqui indigenous community.
CACTUS human rights work coordinator Omar Esparza indicated that "the group had gone out to do reporting and interview people. They were indigenous reporters carrying out a task assigned by the community authorities."
"It's a pity that no one paid attention to the complaints we had been making about the critical situation in the region for the last five months," Esparza added.
The region has been wracked by intense political confrontations, especially since the Triqui people's authorities and organisations declared the creation of an autonomous region of San Juan Copala, 350 kilometers from Oaxaca's capital, in January 2007.
This attack comes in the wake of a long list of attacks on journalists in Oaxaca, which highlights the unsafe conditions in which they are obliged to exercise their rights to free expression and press freedom. Community radio stations are at particular risk, as demonstrated by the previous assaults on members of Radio Nandia and Radio Calenda radio stations, also based in Oaxaca. The attacks on both of those radio stations and their staff are still unpunished.
ARTICLE 19 and CENCOS once again respectfully urge the Mexican state to take every measure, both legislative and political, to ensure both the physical safety and freedom from legal harassment of people exercising their rights to free expression and press freedom, in accordance with the state's international obligations and international human rights standards.
For further information on the Radio Nandia case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/76738
For further information on the Radio Calenda case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/80743