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Community radio stations still fighting to survive

(RSF/AMARC/IFEX) - 13 April 2011 - Unidentified arsonists set fire to the home of Teresa Reyes and Radio Faluma Bimetu director Alfredo López at midnight on 7 April 2011, in the latest in a long list of attacks on the personnel and offices of this community radio station (known in Spanish as Radio Coco Dulce), based in Triunfo de la Cruz, municipality of Tela, on the Atlantic coast.

The mouthpiece of the country's Garifuna (Afro-Honduran) community, Radio Coco Dulce has been attacked repeatedly since the June 2009 coup d'état. The attacks have intensified since the start of 2010, when its premises were ransacked and torched, but they have never been properly investigated and remain unpunished.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) reiterate their appeal to the Honduran authorities to lose no time in investigating the recent attacks on the station's members. The international community must urge the Honduran government to protect all of this station's rights, including the right to free expression.

Harassment of Radio Coco Dulce resumed again during the January 2011 local elections, when several of its members were threatened or were the target of unjustified criminal proceedings, even though the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has asked Honduras to take precautionary measures to protect its members. (See: http://www.cidh.org/annualrep/2007sp/Honduras1118.03sp.htm and, in Spanish only, http://www.cidh.oas.org/annualrep/2010sp/HOAD1119-03ES.doc ).

Radio Coco Dulce has always defended the rights of Triunfo's Garifuna community, including the right to keep its coastal land, which has been threatened by expropriation for major tourism development projects by a group of local politicians and entrepreneurs.

The frequent attacks on Radio Coco Dulce members and the failure to punish the threats and acts of violence against it constitute a serious violation of the Triunfo community's right to free expression and reflect a desire on the part of the local authorities to silence the station.

Sad anniversary for La Voz de Zacate Grande

It is in this climate of heightened tension that La Voz de Zacate Grande, a community radio station on the Pacific Coast island of Zacate Grande, will be marking the first anniversary of its creation on 14 April.

A week ago, the prosecutor's office in the nearby town of Amapala ordered the capture of eight leaders of the local peasant organization ADEPZA, of which La Voz de Zacate Grande is the mouthpiece. Several of those named in the arrest order are contributors to the radio station and the charges, which are several months old, directly concern its activities.

The authorities appear to be reluctant carry out the arrests on Zacate Grande island for fear that the local population will demonstrate in support of the station's contributors, who are however liable to be arrested whenever they leave the island, above all when they report to the court in Amapala, which they are supposed to do every two weeks.

A meeting of community radio stations was scheduled for 13 April to mark the anniversary.

RSF and AMARC call on the Honduran authorities to stop the harassment of community radio stations and to respect their right to free speech. They also urge the authorities to take whatever security measures are necessary to ensure that there are no problems at the 14 April AMARC meeting in Honduras.
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