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Community radio station personnel receive death threats

(AMARC/IFEX) - On 5 January 2011 around 10:40 a.m., two people wearing uniforms of the Honduran Electrical Metering Service entered the offices of the Civic Council of People's and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras (Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras, COPINH), located in the Las Delicias neighbourhood of La Esperanza, without identifying themselves or presenting official documentation. According to information from COPINH, the two individuals threatened to kill members of the civic council. They also cut the electrical supply to the organisation's offices, making it impossible for the COPINH-affiliated Guarajambala and Voz Lenca community radio stations to broadcast. SEMEH is a private company contracted by the Honduran government to measure electricity usage.

The two presumed SEMEH employees, who were driving a red Toyota, subsequently got into their vehicle and continued verbally assaulting the COPINH members, yelling, "The electrical supply for these revolutionary SOBs has to be cut off, we don't want to listen to these radio stations anymore." They also aggressively drove their vehicle towards several COPINH members who were standing in an alley outside the office. The individuals who were threatened include Juan Vásquez, Leonel Andino, and Cruz Alfaro, who are members of the Operators and Communications Team, as well as Salvador Zúniga, Telma Hernández and Bertha Cáceres. In addition, Nestor Sorto was physically assaulted.

These attacks are part of a recent chain of similar incidents against independent and community media, which has included the persecution of two La Voz de Zacate Grande radio station correspondents and the 4 January theft of a computer from a member of the Honduras Insurrecta digital radio station.

Two of these attacks have been connected directly to state authorities or people associated with the authorities. Given that the attackers have been clearly identified, the investigations in these cases need to streamlined and the results expedited. AMARC once again calls on the authorities to end these acts of intimidation and harassment against people working for community and independent media, while also immediately investigating, sanctioning and providing compensation for the damage done.

(Please note this is an abridged translation.)

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