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Journalist assaulted, forced to drink contaminated water

(IPYS/IFEX) - Antonio Mollehuanca, director of Radio Espinar news programme "La Voz", was violently attacked, both verbally and physically, by the locals of the town of Yauri, capital of Espinar province, Cusco region, in southeastern Peru. The incident occurred on 1 October 2010.

Mollehuanca related that on 1 October, a number of people forced their way into Radio Espinar's facilities during the broadcast of his news programme, and hit him several times, until he was finally forced to leave the radio station. Once outside he was made to carry a sign that read "I am a traitor of the people". After that, he was taken to the banks of the Canipia River, in an area where the sewage drains into the river, and was forced to drink the contaminated water.

Mollehuanca believes that the attack, promoted by radical groups, was provoked by his programme's editorial line, in which he advocates a political dialogue about plans for the use of water from the Majes project, which is polarizing the region's residents. He stated that Roger Aragón Conza, a militant of the communist party Pukallacta, and Benedicto Usca, secretary general of the Espinar's Farmers' Federation, were among the assailants.

Mollehuanca has had to cancel his programme as a consequence of the attack, but he plans to return to it soon. He has reported the case to the ombudsman.

IPYS condemns the assailants' appalling behavior and Aragón Conza and Usca for apparently inciting their supporters. IPYS considers the inhumane and degrading treatment of the journalist to be an attack on freedom of expression and demands a thorough police investigation.

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