TEGUCIGALPA – Several people were beaten by police and troops on Tuesday during a protest to demand justice for the 24 journalists murdered in Honduras over the last eight years, including 17 slain since January 2010.
Some 40 news professionals marched from the eastern part of Tegucigalpa to the presidential palace, where soldiers and cops responded with batons and tear gas when the protesters tried to get around a security barrier.
The demonstrators then laid down on the pavement at the entrance to the palace’s parking lot.
“That’s how they want us, they want us quiet and asleep,” said one of the organizers of the protest, Claudia Mendoza. “We denounce ... the aggression against journalists displayed by the government.”
The idea for the demonstration came from a group of woman journalists who work for alternative media outlets and in government agencies.
Since the June 2009 coup that toppled President Mel Zelaya, killings of reporters “have increased with a criminal pattern that endangers life and the practice of journalism,” the protesters said in a statement.
They also demanded punishment for the “white-collar assassins” behind assaults on the freedom of expression and information and on the liberty of “Hondurans in general.”
President Porfirio Lobo’s press secretary said the palace did not order police and troops to break up the protest.
“We will investigate who gave the order to repress the journalists,” Miguel Angel Bonilla told reporters.
Lobo took office in January 2010 after winning an election organized by the junta that ousted Zelaya. Turnout was low following a campaign marked by suppression of independent media and violence against opponents of the coup. EFE