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Community radio station in Chiapas forcibly shut down

(AMARC/CENCOS/IFEX) - On 12 October 2010, at approximately 7:30 p.m., a group of 25 to 30 masked individuals with high-power weapons arrived in four vehicles at the offices of the Emiliano Zapata Popular Organisation (Organización Popular Emiliano Zapata , OPEZ), located in the northern part of the capital of the state of Chiapas.

The group, which consisted of personnel from the State Attorney General's Office (Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado, PGJE) and a special unit of the Chiapas state police, used excessive force to enter the OPEZ building, from which the Radio Proletaria community radio station operates. The officials did not identify themselves, nor did they present any legal documents to justify their actions.

During the ensuing two-hour long operation, the officials confiscated the equipment the radio station uses for broadcasting, as well as an antenna. They then detained six people, including OPEZ members Vicente Antunar Pablo and Salvador Saavedra and one of the radio station's collaborators, 14-year-old Carlos Martínez Ruíz. The detainees were initially taken to a PGJE facility and two of them were subsequently released. Martínez, however, was not heard from for about 12 hours as he was not allowed to contact his parents until the following day. During his detention, he was initially told that he was being accused of theft, but when he was interrogated all of the questions pertained to the activities of the radio station and its collaborators. Martínez was taken from the PGJE facility in a vehicle in order to show the officials where three of the radio station's members live. He was released at 9:30 p.m. on 13 October after being taken to a facility for juveniles.

This incident was replete with human rights and freedom of expression violations perpetrated by state officials who raided and used excessive force to shut down the community radio station. The use of criminal law to intimidate the radio station collaborators signifies the criminalisation of their journalistic activities.

Radio Proletaria opened four years ago with the objective of working to further respect for human rights in the community. It is mainly operated by youths from the neighbourhood in which it is located. Working with the radio station has given the youths a space to meet and create direction in their lives, while constructing new ways to relate to the community by exercising their right to freedom of expression. Radio Proletaria is a World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) member.

The attack on Radio Proletaria represents a failure by the Mexican government to fulfill its human rights commitments made at the international level.

The signatory organisations listed below call on the Mexican government to: immediately stop all attacks on media outlets and individuals carrying out social or community-oriented work in Chiapas; carry out a thorough and impartial investigation to identify and punish those responsible for these types of human rights violations; and ensure that the equipment that was seized from Radio Proletario is returned immediately.


World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC)
Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social (CENCOS)
Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas A.C.
Red Nacional de Organizaciones Civiles "Todos los Derechos para Todos y Todas"

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