New York, August 25, 2009--Masked assailants on
Monday stormed a radio station
and a television outlet critical of the country's interim government, forcing
the broadcasters off the air in the latest attack on the Honduran media. The
Committee to Protect Journalists called on Honduran authorities to ensure that
all journalists can work safely in an increasingly polarized and violent
At 8 p.m., eight individuals wearing ski masks forced their
way into the Tegucigalpa
offices shared by Radio Globo and Canal 36, local press reports said. The
assailants threatened the guards and sprayed acid on broadcasting equipment,
effectively taking both stations off the air, according to local and international
press reports. The attackers fled in several cars without license plates. No
injuries were reported.
As of 6 a.m. today, Radio Globo could be heard again in
limited parts of Tegucigalpa,
local press reports said. Canal 36 remained off the air as of Tuesday afternoon.
Both broadcasters had been airing a concert in support of ousted President
Manuel Zelaya at the time of the attack. Their editorial positions support
Zelaya, according to local press reports.
Monday's episode was the latest in a series of press attacks
apparently launched by supporters of both sides in the political conflict.
On August 15, several unidentified individuals tossed at
least three homemade bombs at the offices of the national El Heraldo in Tegucigalpa,
according to reports in the Honduran and international press. The bombs
exploded near the paper's main and staff entrances, causing minor damage. No injuries
were reported. El Heraldo, one of the
country's main dailies, has been an outspoken supporter of the interim
government led by Roberto Micheletti, local press reports said.
"The media are under assault from both sides of the bitter
political conflict raging in Honduras,"
said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. "The authorities must send a clear
signal that such violence will not be tolerated, by denouncing and
investigating all attacks on the press and ensuring the safety of all
On the morning of June 28, members of the Honduran army
arrested Zelaya and put him on a plane to Costa Rica. Micheletti, a veteran
congressional leader, was sworn in as the president later that day. Zelaya had
been seeking a referendum on a constitutional change to eliminate term limits
and allow him a second run.
Since the coup, press conditions have deteriorated. Honduran
security forces shut down local broadcasters, blocked transmissions of
international news networks, and briefly detained journalists in the aftermath
of the coup, CPJ
research shows. As political tension, protests, and violence have intensified,
coverage has been skewed
at times. Unidentified assailants have attacked
media outlets and harassed
journalists covering both sides of the political crisis. A reporter was shot dead
on July 4. CPJ is investigating whether his death is linked to the political
crisis or to his reporting.