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FOPEA concerned over hostile climate, threats against journalists in Bariloche

(FOPEA/IFEX) - FOPEA is concerned about the difficulties, harassment and threats that journalists in Bariloche have been facing owing to their coverage of events relating to the assassination of a 15-year-old youth by a police officer. During protests that took place on 17 June 2010, both in Bariloche's Alto neighbourhood and in the city centre, several journalists said they were threatened and both verbally and physically assaulted. In some cases, the actions against the journalists were aimed at stopping them from carrying out their work, while in other instances the protesters reprimanded the journalists for the editorial stance of their media outlet or for covering actions being carried out by those who oppose their view. Violent or derogatory comments have also been made on radio programmes and in online forums.

Of particular concern is the death threat received by journalist Oscar Chávez, of FM Gente de Radio. On 24 June, Chávez's radio station hosted a special programme, opening the airwaves for individuals to call in and express their opinion about the social unrest in the city following the assassination. A caller, who said she was from the Alto neighbourhood, threatened Chávez and said the radio station would be burned down if it continued "defending thugs who are better off dead." She also said she was "sick of the radio station speaking ill of the police."

FOPEA is of the opinion that accurate information and a range of opinions expressed respectfully contribute to an informed public and, as such, calls on the citizens of Bariloche to respect the work of all journalists and media personnel. The organisation also calls on the authorities in the Province of Rio Negro and the municipality of Bariloche to ensure that journalists are provided with the conditions necessary to carry out their work.

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