Reporters Without Borders is very worried about the impact of yesterday’s military coup d’état on press freedom. President Manuel Zelaya’s ouster was followed by a curfew during which the broadcasts of several radio and TV stations were suspended.
“We condemn a coup against a democratically-elected president on principle, especially as it raises concern about respect for basic freedoms including press freedom,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The suspension or closure of local and international broadcast media indicates that the coup leaders want to hide what is happening. The Organisation of American States and the international community must insist that this news blackout is lifted.”
As soon as the curfew had been decreed, the National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL) notified cable TV operators of a ban on broadcasting certain international TV stations such as Telesur, Cubavisión Internacional and CNN Español. The broadcasts of Radio Globo and several other stations were also either interrupted or shut down.
In the provinces, around 25 soldiers stormed into the studios of Radio Progreso, a station affiliated to the Latin American Association of Radio Education, four hours after the coup and forced the staff to stop all work. In a statement, station manager Ismael Moreno said the intervention of local residents prevented more serious violence. Still in the military’s sights, Radio Progreso has not yet resumed broadcasting.
The military coup and Roberto Micheletti’s subsequent installation by congress as the new president prompted demonstrations in support of the ousted president. Members of the Association of Taxis of Honduras who were staging a demonstration in Tegucigalpa attacked a photographer with the daily El Heraldo, throwing stones at him and then beating and kicking him as he lay on the ground.
Reporters Without Borders added: “Honduran journalists already suffer from the high level of violent crime in normal times. We also appeal to the media to act responsibly at this difficult moment. They should refrain from fuelling a polarisation in public opinion that could expose journalists to more reprisals.”
(Photo : AFP)