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Military accuse Arauca radio journalists of being "apologists for terrorism," station suspends broadcasting for day to protest FARC pressures

(FLIP/IFEX) - Various media outlets in the department of Arauca continue to face difficulties following the insistence by the guerrilla group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC) that they broadcast a FARC press release or face being declared military targets.

On the morning of 9 August 2007, during a call-in programme broadcast by the Saravena-based radio station Sarare Estéreo, a person called in, identified him or herself as a FARC member, and proceeded to read the press release that the station had refused to broadcast. To protest this action, the station suspended its 10 August broadcasting.

As well, in the city of Arauca - capital of the department of the same name - La Voz del Cinaruco radio station journalists received a call from a FARC member urging them to read the press release on air. However, the journalists refused, limiting themselves to reporting on the development.

The journalists told FLIP that the authorities are evaluating the authenticity of the pamphlet previously sent, allegedly by the guerrilla group. The national government announced that special protection measures will be taken by the interior ministry. FLIP will monitor the implementation of the security measures.

The journalists added that during a meeting with an Army battalion operating in Arauca, members of the armed forces expressed anger that the media outlets had referred to the FARC's pronouncements at all, even insinuating that the journalists may be committing the crime of "being apologists for terrorism." They urged the media outlets to not cover information from the FARC.

FLIP disagrees with the manner in which some members of the Army in the area have joined in the harassment of the journalists by insinuating that they are committing crimes. Since the FARC press releases arrived at the local radio stations, it has been the journalists themselves who have publicly criticized the FARC's interference with journalists' work.

To hear the audiotape of the FARC press release sent to La Voz del Cinaruco radio station, (in Spanish only), click on: http://www.flip.org.co/documentos.php?idAlerta=227&nombAlert=Continúan%20las%20intimidaciones%20a%20los%20medios%20de%20Arauca

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