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World Press Freedom Day and keeping Dina Meza alive
May 3 is World Press Freedom Day. Today is a day to think about Dina Meza, because today — as far as I know — she is still alive. Tomorrow ... that's hard to say. Dina Meza is a journalist in Honduras, where 26 journalists have been killed in the past decade, 19 of them since the 2009 coup, and two of them this year. Why is Dina Meza a journalist to think about today? Here's her story, from Reporters Without Borders:
Meza is a member of the Committee of Families of Detainees and Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH) and works with the Defensores en Línea website. As a journalist, she often covers land conflicts in the Bajo Aguán region. She has reported being the target of repeated threats and acts of intimidation since February.
On 22 February, she received two SMS messages signed “Commando Alvarez Martinez” (CAM), a pseudonym often used for sending threats to human rights activists and journalists after the 2009 coup d’état. One said: “We are going to burn your ‘pipa’ (vagina) with caustic lime until you scream and then the whole squad will have fun. CAM.” And the other said: “You’ll end up dead like the Aguán people, there’s nothing better than screwing whores.”
While near her home with her son on 6 April, she saw two men taking photos of them. She reported receiving three calls on her mobile phone at different times of the day on 14 April from someone who said nothing. When she finally called back, a man calling himself Miguel answered and, at the end of the call, said: “Look after your pipa.”
The two journalists killed this year in Honduras:
- Fausto Elio Hernández, 54, the presenter of the news program “La Voz de la Notícia” on Radio Alegre de Colón, was hacked to death March 11 in Sabá, in the northeastern department of Colón. His attacker fled without taking any of the journalist's belongings.
- Journalism student Saira Fabiola Almendares Borjas, 22, was found dead in Choloma on February 29.
Of course, there are other journalists around the world who are arrested, tortured, beaten, killed because they are journalists and because a free press is a threat to power. Reporters Without Borders notes that 21 "news providers" have been killed since the beginning of 2012. Its site reports the spectrum of attacks on journalists, including:
- May 2 — Farhan James Abdulle killed in Somalia (fifth journalist killed in Somalia this year)
- April 28 — Regina Martínez killed in Mexico
- April 28 — Awke Abdullahi Ali released in Puntland, after being held in jail for 57 days without charges
- April 21 — Narges Mohammadi arrested in Iran
- April 6 — Journalists beaten by riot police in Greece
In observing World Press Freedom Day, you could visit the Reporters Without Borders website and choose from many actions. Or you could join me in responding to Amnesty International's call to support Dina Meza. There's a simple form to fill out on their website, or a list of addresses, if you want to write and send your own letter or fax. Whether you are a journalist or someone who reads, watches, or listens to journalism — a few minutes of your time can mean a lot for Dina Meza and freedom of the press around the world.