Friday, May 13, 2011

Urgent Action for Radio Victoria: Petition! recently created an online petition that makes it easy to take action to demand an Investigation of Death Threats Against Radio Victoria Journalists in El Salvador (click here) and spread the word published the following article on Tuesday May, 10th

El Salvador: Protect Independent Radio from Death Threats

by Antonio Ramirez · May 10, 2011

Since the early 1990s, Radio Victoria has provided a voice for the residents of the northern hills of El Salvador. Founded in the aftermath of the nation's bloody civil war, today Radio Victoria transmits daily local and international news and other programs to communities so poor they often lack telephone and mail services.
The journalists who run the station are mostly 16 to 24 year-olds who grew up in Hondruan refugee camps and returned to the area with their families as the civil war raged around them.
And now, someone wants them dead.
Last month, Radio Victoria's workers began receiving a wave of death threats from a shadowy group reminiscent of the macabre rightwing "death squads" active during the civil war.

Local activists believe the threats are linked to the radio's involvement in a struggle against Pacific Rim, a Canadian mining company that hopes to install a massive gold mine in the region. Since 2009, Salvadoran anti-mining activists have been threatened, robbed, kidnapped and murdered while protesting the potential environmental and social damage Pacific Rim's mine would cause the local community. Recently, over 1,000 members sent letters supporting a full investigation of these murders.
But as the struggle against Pacific Rim has heated up, so has the intimidation against activists.
On the morning of April 30th, someone slipped a note under the Radio Victoria's door threatening the lives of three of the radio's workers if they didn't quit "talking" and leave the station that week.
A few days later, two journalists received death threats in the form of text messages to their personal cell phones; some of the messages mentioned  the three year-old daughter of one of the journalists. The threats were signed by a group that calls itself Exterminio, or Extermination.
Then, more death threats came after the radio held a press conference calling for an investigation into the threats.
Unfortunately, such threats are nothing new for the small radio station. Since 2006, young journalists have received so many death threats that two of them are currently provided protection by the International Human Rights Commission.
But despite consistent calls for stronger protections for Radio Victoria staff, the Salvadoran Attorney General Romero Barhona and Director of Human Rights David Morales have done little to investigate the threats.
Now, Salvadoran and US activists are calling on the Attorney General and Director of Human Rights to investigate the threats and take action to provide police protection for Radio Victoria staff.
Salvadoran activists say that messages of international solidarity are important to keeping such activists safe. Click here to Demand an Investigation of Death Threats Against Radio Victoria Journalists in El Salvador!

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