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RSF condemns violence, censorship during indigenous mobilization in Colombia

Reporters without Borders (RSF) condemned the intimidation and censorship against the journalists of indigenous media during the national mobilization of several regional groups in Colombia.

During the "Minga Social Indígena y Popular" (Indigenous and Popular Social Meeting), three journalists from  the department of Cauca (southeast in the nation) were assaulted by the Mobile Riot Squad (Esmad) of the National Police. The squad stole the computers and hard disk drives of Daniel Maestre Villazón, a community reporter from the department of Cesar (northeast) and a coordinator of the Minga. A pamphlet signed by a paramilitary group also circulated during the Minga with death threats to leaders and communicators, RSF informed.

“Whenever a Minga is staged, indigenous groups and their news media are the targets of intimidation and violence with the clear aim of censoring their message,” Reporters Without Borders said. “This situation is similar to what many community news media suffer on a smaller scale every day, especially in war zones, where they are exposed to pressure from three sides – from the army, the paramilitaries and the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)."

Protesters also reported threats from paramilitary groups and abuses from security forces, news agency Prensa Latina reported.

The Minga (a name for peaceful mobilizations) started on Oct. 15 with the participation of 40,000 indigenous people from at least seven departments in Colombia who demanded better living conditions and increased access to the nation's political processes, news agency EFE reported. The Minga came to an end ten days later when the Colombian government and indigenous leaders agreed on a working plan, news agency Colprensa informed.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.

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