jueves, 1 de octubre de 2009

Journalists in Honduras: "They know who we are"

30 September 2009

Testimony from Marvin Ortiz, a journalist with Radio Globo in Honduras

On Monday at 5am, we started broadcasting with our normal schedule, starting with the Radio Globo news from 5 to 8am, presented by the director of our radio station and two other journalists. At around 5.20am, the heard someone beating on the door and people shouting "get outside!". They were soldiers and police who had come to confiscate all the radio equipment.

My colleagues heard the sound of shots aimed at the lock on the door, as if to break it and get inside the building. At that moment, several journalists decided to jump from the third floor of the radio station building. Now they’re bruised and wounded. Luckily, a passerby saw them, gave them first aid and took them to a safe place.

When the soldiers and police entered the radio station, without warning, they took all the equipment, everything you need to run the radio, computers, microphones, the console, the telephone switchboard, the amplifiers, and even the aerials. They destroyed the news table. They took everything away in a police patrol car.

After that they started to occupy the building. As well as the radio station, a state agency also works in the same building – the National Register of Persons – and when the staff of that agency arrived, the police wouldn’t let them in. All they could do was punch in their time cards and go home.

I arrived at the radio station at around 7am. I was with a colleague. Straight away the police and soldiers started to harass us. They threatened and harassed us. They took photos of us and insulted us.

They confiscated the equipment of several journalists who were covering the shut-down of the radio, and arrested some of them.

Everybody left the building at around 9am.

All of this happened because of an Executive Decree issued by the de facto government led by Roberto Micheletti, which suspends Hondurans’ constitutional guarantees and restricts freedom of expression. The Decree specifically mentioned Radio Globo and Canal 36 [TV station], which has also been shut down.

Since the coup d’état, Radio Globo has maintained its stance of informing the public about what has been happening in our country. We condemn the coup d’etat. We give a space to people to express themselves freely and to make their complaints.

There are around 50 of us who work at the radio station, including reporters, presenters, operators and administrative staff. There is a high level of persecution directed against us and a lot of fear. We never feel safe.

A lot of people gathered near the radio station to protest against the [de facto] government’s decision to close it down.

At the moment, Radio Globo is only operating via the Internet at www.radiohonduras.com. Yesterday [Monday], we had about 400,000 listeners. People are waiting to see what happens to the radio station.

Following the intervention of several human rights organizations, the military and police decided to end their occupation of the radio station. A group of lawyers are working at the moment to ensure that the radio can start to operate again without restrictions on its broadcasts.

Today [Tuesday], there are only two of us here, both presenters. We’re broadcasting via the internet because the ban, the Decree, doesn’t allow us to broadcast using a radio frequency.

Threats, repression and arrests of journalists continue, but we reporters continue working. We have to go to where the news is happening but it’s frightening because we know that there could be repression against us, especially because they already know who we are. They know we’re part of the Radio Globo team.

We have a commitment to the people, to our profession and to our family.

In spite of everything, we’re going to carry on, informing.

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