Reporters Without Borders condemns the new wave of violence against the media that took place last week, while Honduras appeared to be further than ever from resolving the crisis resulting from President Manuel Zelaya’s removal in a coup on 28 June.
“The de facto government has again illustrated its concept of press freedom by pitting soldiers and police against news media that are critical of the coup,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The attacks on community and education media are yet another sign of the deterioration in the general press freedom situation since 28 June.”
The press freedom organisation added: “The de facto government is reaping what it sowed when it launched a war on the media at the time of the coup. We urge the activists of the National Front for Resistance to the Coup not to use physical violence against media that back the de facto government or the employees of these media.”
Lidieth Diaz of Radio Globo - one of the few remaining news media still critical of the de facto government - said she was denied access to the presidential palace on 13 August on the personal instructions of de facto President Micheletti when she want to cover a ceremony in which Micheletti was participating. She was allowed in several hours later after the office of the human rights ombudsman intervened.
Radio Progreso, a Jesuit-run educational radio station, said reporter Gustavo Cardoza was attacked by police while covering the eviction of Zelaya supporters from their housing in Choloma, in the northeastern department of Cortés, on 14 August. Cardoza said he was attacked and beaten while a policeman pointed a gun at him.
Witnesses confirmed that six officials hit him several times in the head as he lay motionless on the ground. He was taken to a police station and held for several hours until lawyers from the National Front for Resistance to the Coup interceded.
During the same operation, police manhandled photographer Julio Umaña of the daily Tiempo and confiscated his camera although he had just shown his press accreditation. Tiempo said other members of its staff have been attacked while covering recent demonstrations in support of the ousted president.
Soldiers backed by police arrested Alfredo López, the head of Radio Coco Dulce, a community radio station, during a demonstration by the National Front for Resistance to the Coup on 12 August in Tegucigalpa and released later that night, the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) said.
Journalists working for pro-Micheletti media have also been the targets of violence. On 15 August, five Molotov cocktails were thrown at the Tegucigalpa headquarters of the daily El Heraldo, which gives the de facto government strong support. Only three of the devices exploded. Several of its reporters and photographers have been threatened or physically attacked by Zelaya supporters, who accuse it of participating in a conspiracy to oust the president.
Members of the National Front for Resistance to the Coup demonstrated outside the Tegucigalpa headquarters of La Tribuna on 15 August, verbally attacking its editor and staff. Two days prior to that, four hooded men set fire to one of the newspaper’s distribution trucks.