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Radio station receives bomb threat, director flees country

(FLIP/IFEX) - Community radio station Radio Diversia, which is active on human rights issues connected to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community in Bogota, received threats on 5 May 2009 from a group calling itself "La Organización".

The harassment against the station began on 30 April when unknown individuals stole various computers from the station which contained information on its activities and projects, and databases of journalists and other people the station works with.

On 5 May, the station received an email in which "La Organización" threatened to leave a bomb at the station's offices. According to the message, the threat would be carried out if the station's director, Carlos Serrano, did not leave the country within a week. For this reason, Serrano, who is originally from Chile, left Colombia on 11 May.

According to Radio Diversia's spokespeople, these incidents are related to the current wave of violence being suffered by the LGBT community. In past months, criminal groups, in actions unfortunately referred to as "social cleansing", have committed crimes against LGBT groups. It seems these have escalated in the last year because of the visibility that the community has achieved through its activism.

The Colombian office of the UN High Commission for Human rights and the UN project on HIV/AIDS released a statement on 15 May in which they condemned the intimidating acts against Radio Diversia. In the text, the international organisation stated that "this is a violation of the right to freedom of expression and opinion of the members of the LGBT community and those of the station". The message also highlighted the work that the media does to promote the rights of specific groups and called on authorities to adopt the necessary safety measures.

In its most recent communiqué, Radio Diversia said that this threat will not silence its voice in defence of LGBT rights and that it will continue to broadcast its regular programming via its website, http://www.radiodiversia.com .

FLIP is concerned about these incidents and sees them as a violation of freedom of expression and the human rights of a particular group, both of which are protected by the constitution. Discrimination and censorship are clearly prohibited by the national constitution, the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. FLIP urges the authorities to provide protection for the station's members and to investigate and punish those responsible for these threats.

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