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IFJ rejects link between firing of union leader and bomb attack at television network

(IFJ/IFEX) - 18 January 2011 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has accused the authorities in Paraguay of a "scandalous smear" after police in Asunción claimed an explosion outside the offices of Channel 9 television network on 12 January 2011 was linked to an industrial dispute over the sacking of a journalists' union leader from Channel 9.

According to the journalists' union, the Sindicato de Periodistas del Paraguay (SPP), an explosive device was set off last week outside the offices of Channel 9 but there were no casualties. In the aftermath, the deputy head of the national police, Idalino Bianconi, told reporters that the attack could be linked to internal tensions at the station where workers have been protesting over the sacking of union representative, Daniela Candida.

"The police are guilty of a scandalous smear by attempting to implicate our colleagues in this violent incident," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "This is a terrible diversion from the responsibility of management over the wrongful firing of Daniela. She is being victimized and her colleagues are right to protest, but the suggestion they are implicated in this act of violence is absurd."

The attack took place three days after the sacking of Daniela Candida, a TV host at the network who has been negotiating with management over better working conditions for workers at the station. The SPP, with the support of the Federación de Periodistas de América Latina y el Caribe (FEPALC), the IFJ regional group, is fighting the dismissal and secured the intervention of President Lugo who ordered a review of the decision.

The IFJ is giving its full support to SPP and FEPALC and says the reckless declarations of the police undermine the legitimate activity of journalists' representatives. The Federation has also urged the authorities to take seriously threats made against the media in Paraguay by a guerrilla group known as the Paraguay People's Army, which has declared journalists as military targets, according to news agencies.

"The police should focus on catching those who threaten the journalists' safety and stop interfering in union affairs," added White.

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