“We’ll skin you alive, bitch!” With these words the independent journalists and human rights campaigner Itsmania Pineda Platero was threatened on 6 January, then again in three similar calls — once more on the same day, and on 8 and 9 January.
During one of the calls, there was the sound of a gun being loaded in the background.
Reporters Without Borders holds the Honduran authorities responsible for the safety of the journalist, who walked at the head of the “Journalism for life and free expression” march on 13 December (see photo) that was violently dispersed in front of the presidential palace in Tegucigalpa.
A week later, a complaint was filed about the violence used by soldiers and members of the presidential guard. Reporters Without Borders is waiting to hear what legal action will be taken as a result.
“Itsmania Pineda Platero was already at risk because of her prominent position as head of the Xibalba human rights organization,” the press freedom organization said.
“She is exposed to even greater danger since the 13 December demonstration and none of the usual measures to protect her and her family have been carried out. This must be rectified without delay.
“Impunity has gone on too long. Seventeen journalists have been killed in Honduras since the coup in June 2009.
“Through Itsmania Pineda Platero, we consider all members of the ‘Journalism for life and free expression’ group to be under threat from now on. Once again, the authorities bear the responsibility.”
22.12.11 - Fifteen women journalists file complaint against president, army chiefs
Reporters Without Borders supports the complaint against President Porfirio Lobo Sosa, armed forces chief of staff Gen. René Osorio Canales and presidential guard chief Gen. Andrés Felipe Díaz that 15 women journalists from the “Journalism for Life and Free Expression” collective filed yesterday before special prosecutor for human rights Sandra Ponce.
The complaint concerns the violence used by police and soldiers to disperse a march by around 50 journalists, human rights activists and civil society representatives on 13 December in Tegucigalpa as it passed in front of the presidential palace.
“We have three reasons for supporting this joint complaint, a copy of which we have received,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Firstly, it is a legitimate response to serious abuse of authority against defenceless people. Secondly, it challenges the government’s outrageous propaganda portraying the victims as attackers. Why was a demonstration by journalists able to go ahead in the same place four days earlier without any clashes?
“Lastly, aside from the specific events it addresses, this collective complaint asks the pertinent question why impunity persists in what is, after Mexico, now the deadliest country in the hemisphere for those who provide news and information, especially about the very alarming human rights situation. We add our voice to theirs to demand that justice finally be rendered in Honduras.”
A total of 24 journalists have been killed in Honduras since 2003, 17 of them since the June 2009 coup d’état.
14.12.11 - Soldiers use clubs to disperse women journalists demonstrating outside presidential palace
Reporters Without Borders condemns the violence used by police and soldiers to disperse yesterday’s demonstration by journalists – mostly women – outside the presidential palace in Tegucigalpa to demand justice for the 24 journalists killed since 2003, 17 of them since the June 2009 coup d’état. The latest journalist to be murdered, last week, was a woman.
“The Honduran government’s only response to the dire human rights and civil liberties situation is repression,” Reporters Without Borders said. “This attitude shows that it is completely responsible for this situation and that the persecution that began after the coup is continuing. The ‘national reconciliation’ bandied about since the Cartagena Accord is no more than empty words.
“The international community and the governments of Latin America must insist on tangible results in 2012 in the investigations into human rights violation and on full cooperation from the Honduran authorities with these investigations. Otherwise there will be a danger of chaos again in the run-up the major elections scheduled for 2013.”
Yesterday’s demonstration, which set off from the Francisco Morazán Teachers’ Training University, was convened by the Journalists for Life and Free Expression Collective in response to the 6 December murder of radio host Luz Marina Paz Villalobos, first woman journalist to have been killed in Honduras.
The Honduran Committee for Free Expression (C-Libre), a Reporters Without Borders partner organization, said the protesters also condemned the censorship and systematic harassment to which alternative and community media, human rights activists and civil society representatives are exposed. Dogged by political violence since the 2009 coup, Honduras has one of the world’s worse crime rates, with an average of 86 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants a year.
One of the participants in yesterday’s protest told Reporters Without Borders: “We managed to move the security barrier a bit and thereby reach our goal. This enraged the soldiers guarding the presidential palace, who were waiting for us behind another metal barrier further down. They pushed us back, hit us with batons and used teargas to force us to disperse.”
She pointed out that the journalists who took part in a previous march organized by the Association of Honduran Journalists (CPH) on 9 November were able to demonstrate without any problem.
Honduras is the western hemisphere’s deadliest country for the media after Mexico. Five Honduran journalists have been killed since the start of this year. In three of the cases, the motive was directly or very probably linked to the victim’s work.