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Journalists and media attacked, threatened in wake of coup d'état

IAPA censures acts against journalists and media, calls for full respect for press freedom

(IAPA/IFEX) - Miami (June 29, 2009) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today condemned limitations placed on news media and journalists following yesterday's ousting of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya and issued a public demand that incoming officials respect press freedom "without reservations" since it "is at risk under the 48-hour curfew imposed."

IAPA President Enrique Santos Calderón expressed the organization's concern over the political crisis in Honduras and the restrictions on freedom of information evidenced by the temporary suspension of state radio and television broadcasts and privately-owned international chains, as well as a number of attacks upon journalists and media headquarters.

After Zelaya was removed from office and expelled from the country, Roberto Micheletti Bain was sworn in as president of Honduras at Congress and a 48-hour curfew was imposed, which runs from 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. daily.

After the announcement of a state of emergency, the National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL) banned cable television transmissions, blacking out CNN Español, Telesur and Cubavisión Internacional. It was also learned that, earlier, state radio and television broadcasts were suspended for several hours.

During yesterday's confusing scenario, there were numerous censures by the international community of the coup d'etat and calls for Zelaya's return to power.

The IAPA's Santos Calderón requested that the Honduran authorities waive the curfew for local and foreign journalists "whose duties must be respected so that citizens and the international community may be kept fully informed."

Local media complained that demonstrators in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula opposed to Zelaya's overthrow attacked and insulted reporters and photographers and destroyed newspaper vending kiosks.

The Tegucigalpa daily newspaper El Heraldo reported an attack on one of its photographers covering a demonstration outside the Presidential Palace. In San Pedro Sula, El Tiempo newspaper reported that members of the military went to Canal 11 TV and its own headquarters ordering a halt to reporting and broadcasting statements by officials of the ousted Zelaya administration.

La Prensa in San Pedro Sula declared that "a group of reporters, photographers and drivers from the newspaper were threatened while covering the crisis in the country" and were photographed by demonstrators who attempted to seize their equipment, while this morning a distribution van was attacked by a mob.

Throughout yesterday power outages ordered by the government halted radio and television broadcasts.
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