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Journalist kidnapped, threatened by rural self-defense group

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 16 April 2012, journalist Éler Alcántara Rojas, main presenter of the news program "Libre Expresión" of radio station El Edén in Celendín, was held for two and a half hours by a group of 'ronderos' (members of a rural community self-defense group). The ronderos humiliated and threatened to hurt him if he does not change his reports to favor their struggle against the Conga mining project. This took place in the Cajamarca region of northern Peru.

Alcántara Rojas was intercepted as he left an event he was covering at the municipality of Celendín and was heading towards the radio station. A horde of people, led by ronderos Edwar Rodo Rojas and Elías Oyarce Abanto, pushed the journalist to their headquarters, called El Milagro, and there they hit him in the feet, insulted and mocked him.

More than two hours later, after accusing him of favoring the Yanacocha mining company in the information he presents, and threatening to cut his tongue and fingers "next time", he was released. Yanacocha is in charge of the Conga mining project. The ronderos forced Alcántara Rojas to sign a document they had written in which he stated their encounter had been peaceful and he promised not to sue them.

The provincial prosecutor's office in Celendín is now in charge of the case, the first in a series of attacks against journalists since November 2011 in Celendín. Neither the police nor the Ombudsman have taken formal action before, although IPYS has reported in detail about the attacks.

Before making his statement to the local police in Celendín, the journalist told IPYS that he has stopped presenting the news program because of the threats, but that other journalists are keeping it on the air.

IPYS demands once more that the authorities of Celendín and Cajamarca provide necessary safety measures so that the press can work freely. IPYS also believes that legal actions should be taken against those who attack journalists in the area.

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