Peru - Amazon radio taken off air for bogus reasons after reporting on riots

    MONTREAL, June 15 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders today
condemned as "bogus" and "dishonest" technical and official explanations given
by the Ministry of Transport and Communications for banning broadcasting by
the radio station La Voz de Bagua Grande in the town of the same name in
Peru's north-west.
    The worldwide press freedom organisation called on the government,
unhappy at the media's support for recent indigenous peoples' demonstrations,
to respect rules for the station's approval including time limits fixed by
    "Nobody is fooled by the reasons advanced by the government for silencing
La Voz de Bagua Grande. This comes after recent clashes in the Amazonian
region between government forces and the indigenous population," the
organisation said.
    "Several voices, both within the police and the government, have accused
the station of encouraging the riots. If this accusation was well-founded, why
resort to administrative and technical arguments to justify revoking the
broadcast licence of La Voz de Bagua Grande? It is an act of censorship and
intimidation. We call on the government to keep its own word and to allow the
station the right to resume broadcasting," it said.
    The radio station's licence was cancelled by ministerial decree on 8
June, but since 13 March 2007 it has had a ten-year frequency concession. This
agreement allowed La Voz de Bagua Grande a 12-month period for authorisation
and installation. The station director, Carlos Flores Borja, said he sent the
ministry the documents required for certification on 29 January. This letter,
supported by the municipality of Utcubamba, also said that the radio's initial
site had had to be changed for safety reasons. The ministry used this reason
on 31 December 2008 to cancel the frequency authorisation before the end of
the probationary period.
    In fact, La Voz de Bagua Grande has been in the government's sights since
the clashes that shook the Amazon region at the start of June. At the height
of the rioting, on 5 June, in which around 30 people died, the interior
minister, Mercedes Cabanillas, publicly threatened to close the radio along
with Radio Oriente, another station based in Yurimaguas, for their alleged
"support" for violence against the security forces.
    "The closure of Radio Oriente following that of La Voz de Bagua Grande
appears to provide extra evidence of a serious press freedom violation on the
part of the government," Reporters Without Borders concluded.

For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4188, Fax: (514)

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