Attack against transmission plantforces radio stations off the air

New York, January 14, 2004—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is disturbed by this week’s attack against a radio transmission plant in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. The attack, which forced eight radio stations and one television station off the air, came in the wake of violent street clashes between government supporters and opponents.

According to local press reports, on Tuesday morning, January 13, a group of armed individuals arrived in two vehicles at a radio transmission plant located on a hillside in the neighborhood of Boutilliers, outside of suburban Port-au-Prince. The attackers tied up the plant’s guard and smashed the transmitters with hammers, seriously damaging the equipment.

As a result, seven privately owned radio stations went off the air: Kiskeya, Signal FM, Galaxie, Mélodie FM, Magic Stereo, Plus, and Commercial. Radio Ti Moun and Télé Ti Moun, which belong to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s Foundation for Democracy, were also off the air following the attack. Police said they were investigating the incident.

This morning, Radio Galaxie and Télé Ti Moun resumed broadcast, while the other stations could be off the air for at least five days, a source told CPJ.

Since September 2003, there have been several violent anti-government protests in many Haitian cities, including Port-au-Prince. At least 40 people have been killed and more than a 100 have been wounded.

Radio Kiskeya and Signal FM have widely covered the protests, asking for Aristide’s resignation.

“We condemn this attack on the radio transmission plant and urge the Haitian government to take action against the perpetrators,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “As political and social turmoil in Haiti intensifies, it is crucial that journalists are able to report freely.”