Monday, June 29, 2009

The Media War in Honduras

The audio is taken from yesterday's Telesur transmission. The stills are moments from Telesur's coverage.
From Entertainment Daily:
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Honduran troops detained seven international journalists covering the aftermath of a military coup Monday, freeing them unhurt a short time later. The government also took at least two television stations off the air and interrupted the broadcasts of others.

From a Honduran blog:
Desde que se ejecutó el golpe de Estado, el gobierno de facto ha cerrado canales de televisión, emisoras de radio, ha perseguido periodistas y bloqueado las conexiones por internet. Sólo teleSUR ha transmitido como cadena internacional minuto a minuto los hechos que rodean este golpe de Estado, ahora amenazan con detener al equipo de teleSUR.
This still image is from Telesur, the program service from Venezuela. It shows the contrast between what is playing on a Honduran private television channel (telenovelas) and what is happening outside the presidential palace (reality). Channels with news have been shut down in Honduras, even CNN.

New Hope for Community TV in Canada

By Carlito Pablo
A report tabled in Parliament by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage has given some measure of hope to advocates of independent community television.

After more than a decade, community television producers again may be able to access public funds for programming purposes.

Richard Ward, a director of the Community Media Education Society, pointed out that the number one recommendation in the report entitled Issues and Challenges Related to Local Television is the inclusion of community television among groups that can access “any programs designed to assist local broadcasting” for both private and public broadcasters.

The report, which was submitted to the House of Commons on June 19, also called for an increase in the contributions of broadcasting and cable companies into the Local Programming Improvement Fund from the current rate of one percent to 2.5 percent of their broadcasting distribution revenues.

The committee proposed that of this 2.5 percent, a full percent will be dedicated to CBC/Radio-Canada, and the remaining 1.5 percent for “broadcasters in small- and medium-size markets, consistent with recommendation 1”. Link to complete article--

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Small Magazine that Testified


CHAIRPERSON: Can I ask the audience please to take up their seats as quickly as possible so that we can proceed. Brian and Weaam, welcome here today. Thank you very much for being here to make this submission which will help us understand the effects of apartheid on the children of South Africa. I am now going to hand over to you and allow you to present your submission.

MR CLAASSEN: Hi, my name is Brian Claassen. I am representing Molo Songololo. First I would like to tell you a bit about myself. I am living in Mitchells Plain on the Cape Flats and I was fortunate enough to attend one of the few schools, special schools, for children with cerebral palsy and it is through my association with the school that I became with Molo at the age of 15 and I am here to represent the children. It is in keeping with one of the aims and objectives of Molo Songololo of creating a space for children to speak for themselves that we, me and Weaam, have volunteered our services to research, write up and present this submission.

MS WILLIAMS: My name is Weaam Williams. I was first exposed to Molo Songololo when I was about nine years old. The magazine significantly contributed to my development as a child. It made me realise my rights as a child and the equality of all children. I am proud to be here today representing Molo Songololo. Most of the Truth Commission's hearings, thus far, has focused on individual cases. As a children's organisation, Molo Songololo feels obliged to make a representation on behalf of the majority of South Africa's children.

The main focus of the Truth Commission up until now has been the overt killing, torture and severe ill-treatment of people either to uphold or breakdown the system of apartheid. We pay tribute to all children suffering in this regard. However, the violation of children's human rights extends beyond physical forms of violence.

During the apartheid era the racial discrimination in itself was an institution dehumanising to the majority of South Africans, especially children. Our submission therefore focuses on the severe ill-treatment of children through the racially discriminative infrastructure of the past regime causing severe mental and emotional trauma resulting in social ills.

One of the issues that we are going to be looking at is land. Over 3,5 million people were forcibly removed. The 1913 Land Act led to the formation of african reserve areas called Bantustans. To give credence to the divide and rule idealogy, the Act allowed for indians and coloureds to own land while blacks were denied land ownership. The 1966 Group Areas Act forcibly removed people from their place of birth such as District Six, Elsies River, Claremont, etc. Many were removed from aesthetically superior areas and placed in water-logged and desolate areas such as the Cape Flats. This posed as a great health hazard to many children and exposed them to harsh living conditions. It also determined the inferior quality of life of many families. Since the mid-70's one of the most commonly used legal mechanisms has been the Prevention of Illegal Squatting Act. It granted powers to local authorities and landlords to demolish buildings and unilaterally evict residents without recourse to the courts.

The effects that this had on children are the creation of squatter areas with no running water and poor sanitation facilities. This exposed children to harsh living conditions and accompanying health risks; a lace of recreational facilities, once again contributing to a loss of childhood; the forced removals led to a breakdown in family structures causing many children to seek acceptance in gangs and using drugs as mechanisms of escape; the poverty stricken conditions of townships caused many children to end up on the streets, living aimless lives and bearing the brunt of society's degradation; the poorly designed townships impaired children's sense of aesthetics; it also stripped children of their heritage, citizenship and a sense of belonging, causing confusion to their norms and values.

Our recommendations are as follows: Effective allocation of land and resources to benefit all children, the continuous upgrading and development of a safe township environment; the creation of safe recreational and sports facilities; the provision of proper and adequate sewerage and sanitation facilities.

MR CLAASSEN: The following area that I will be looking at is health. The World Health Organisation defines health as and I quote, "A state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". Good health is intrinsic to good living conditions. Poverty renders the majority of children to live in conditions that are not conducive to good health. When living standards drop infant mortality rises and malnutrition grows. The poverty stricken conditions which blacks live under renders them more susceptible to common childhood infections such as diarrhoea, tuberculosis and measles. During the past era these diseases accounted for 85,3% of all deaths related to infectious diseased.

The majority of infant of child deaths during the apartheid rule were as a result of the racial fragmentation of health services. For example, according to research for the period 1976 to 1984, the discrepancy between the per capita health expenditure per race per child in American dollars is as follows. A white child in that period received $201,00, an indian child $109,00, a coloured child $111,00, a black child $51,00. The extreme social dislocation produced by apartheid led to the collapse of family and community cohesiveness and provided fertile ground for the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. An example of this would be congenital syphilis. It has been reported that congenital syphilis is a leading cause of perinatal mortality and that in Durban about 100 cases of congenital syphilis are seen yearly in one centre.

The effects it had on children. The lack of health services aimed at prevention rather than cure saw many children die prematurely. Children suffered from preventable diseases such as polio which resulted in disability. Malnutrition and substance abuse negatively affected their mental and physical development. Drug dependency became a part of children's lives causing mental and physical ill-health.

Our recommendations in this regard are that health should receive priority within the budget allocation; eradication of poverty should be one of the main focuses of primary health care as health cannot be achieved without the raising of living standards; health services should be made accessible and affordable to children up to the age of 18; more and adequate services should be put in place for victims of violence and abuse; a more concerted effort should be made to provide health services for street children and abandoned children. They are most vulnerable to diseases, infections and abuses; primary health care should be the main focus of health services.

MS WILLIAMS: The next area I am going to be looking at is education. Education is considered a basic human right and a necessity for productivity. Apartheid education fundamentally violated this right. The provision of education in South Africa followed a pattern of racial inequality that reinforced the political economy of the apartheid order. Further to create racial, class and ethnic inequalities. In relation to this it was a known fact that education was not compulsory for black children. The policy of education for blacks was to direct the majority of black children towards the unskilled labour market. Black pupils were not encouraged and nurtured in technical subjects such as mathematics and science. Little or no emphasis was placed on black teacher training to adequately teach these subjects. This system further deprived the majority of black children of tertiary education by introducing the quota system in white universities.

In 1992 Molo Songololo hosted an exchange programme and these are some of the comments of the children. Quote, "Ellerton's building is like a hospital. It differs from our school. There is a swimming pool, a park and an exercise hall. Their library is very large. They have everything our school does not have.". That is by Nigel from Morgenson Primary in Hanover Park. Quote, "my school is different from Government schools. We do not have a pool and the school is made of zinc and it is surrounded by squatter camps. The zinc on the roof is not completely done and we have very little space to study. Ellerton school is fully equipped and clean on the outside.". That is by Joyce from Siphika Community School in Nyanga East. Quote, "Stormande, a community school, is very poor and dirty. The school is overcrowded and the children stood outside to begin their assembly. The children obviously do not learn much due to the shortage of textbooks and the children do not seem to care. Education is important if you need a job and to be respected.". This is by Gizelle from Ellerton Primary in Sea Point.

The effects that apartheid education had on children. The statements made by the children mentioned previously clearly indicates inequalities within schools. The fact that white children are academically, athletically and artistically more developed than black children is due to the lack of sporting and art facilities, adequate or no libraries, etc in black schools. The use of indoctrination instilled the belief of white supremacy. Apartheid education also created language barriers which further alienated children from each other. Unemployment amongst black parents forced children to leave school and therefor lose out on education and job opportunities that goes along with it. The lack of special education facilities for children with disabilities reduced such children to burdens of society.

Our recommendations are as follows: The creation of adequate educational and recreational facilities in township and rural schools; to provide a meal at these schools as children cannot learn on an empty stomach; all teachers should be qualified and should treat children with patience, dignity and respect. All teachers should be evaluated and monitored to ensure that they are protecting the rights of the child; all children should have the right to participate in the evaluation and upgrading of curriculum that respects all the traditions, values and cultures of children in South Africa; the State should provide multi-cultural teacher training; more and improved centres should be set up for the special educational needs of children with disabilities and street children; all creches, pre-schools, schools and institutions dealing with children should commit themselves to upholding the values of the new Constitution and the South African Children's Rights Charter.

MR CLAASSEN: The next section I would like to deal with is the apartheid debt. Paying off apartheid's debt, which currently stands at some R311,0b, legitimates a system that grossly violated human rights. It is the second highest expenditure of the 1997/98 budget. This indicates that the Reconstruction and Development Programme suffers under the weight of interest payments on this debt. It further means that the majority of children who had suffered and fought against apartheid would continue to live in a state of poverty and it would ultimately render their sacrifices futile. It is our submission that, fundamentally, it is morally wrong for the present Government to be responsible for paying off this debt.

Our recommendations in this regard are the following: We strongly recommend that the debt be reversed and the money be spent on the reconstruction and development of the country; we further recommend that the Truth Commission investigate the financing of apartheid. Such an investigation would benefit the children in particular as this debt directly impacts on their future survival and development.

In conclusion we would like to say the following: The idealogy and infrastructure promoted by the apartheid regime had a detrimental effect on the well-being of children. Not only did it promote shattering prospects of racial and cultural inequalities, but also significantly strategised their alienation. The articulation and creativity are, sorry. The deeply psychological and emotional scars such as hatred, lack of self esteem, articulation and creativity are a direct consequence of a system that disempowered the majority of its people.

Molo Songololo foresees the formation of a Children's Council including children to pursue and explore ways in which to ensure children's survival, protection and development. Finally, it is our contention that you cannot speak about reconciliation to someone when he or she does not have a decent place to live or even a morsel of food to eat. Reconciliation is only in the vocabulary of those who can afford it. It is non-existent to a person whose self-respect has been stripped away and poverty is a festering wound that consumes his soul. Thank you very much.

MS BURTON: Weaam Williams and Brian Claassen, it is my pleasure to thank you and to commend you for the submission that you have made to us today. I remember well when Molo Songololo was started and many organisations have struggled to change their role, to bring their role up to date, in a way, in our new South Africa and it is very interesting to see how an organisation like this has moved beyond looking after the interests of children in a situation of resistance, to looking at our present day society. So, you can certainly, both of you, as you say, be proud to be associated with it.

Your submission to us is very well researched and we really appreciate and value that and you have made clear and detailed recommendations to us and we will take note of those and thank you very much for them. Thank you.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Criminalization of Free Speech in Mexico

Continúa criminalización en contra del derecho a la libertad de expresión

• Posible cárcel en contra de mujer indígena purépecha de la radio comunitaria Uekakua en Ocumicho, Michoacán
• SEGOB y COFETEL acusan penalmente a integrantes de la emisora

México D.F., a 24 de junio de 2009.- Las organizaciones firmantes expresamos nuestro rechazo en contra de la persecución penal ejercida por parte de autoridades federales en contra de Rosa Cruz, de ocupación artesana, apenas hablante del español y que es integrante de la radio comunitaria purépecha Uekakua.
La radio Uekakua es una emisora de 5 watts de potencia ubicada en la comunidad de Ocumicho, Michoacán. Es la única radio en esa comunidad que transmite en lengua purépecha. Desde 2002 la radio ha solicitado permiso para transmitir, sin que hasta el momento hayan obtenido una respuesta satisfactoria por parte de la autoridad. Esto violenta el artículo segundo constitucional que reconoce el derecho de los pueblos y comunidades indígenas a operar sus propios medios de comunicación, reforzado por la sentencia de la Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación quien estableció que en la Ley Federal de Radio y Televisión existe una omisión legislativa.

El 29 de enero de este año, aproximadamente 100 elementos de la Agencia Federal de Investigaciones acudieron a las instalaciones de la radio y con uso desmedido de la fuerza procedieron al cierre en una comunidad de apenas 3 mil habitantes. Los elementos policíacos amedrentaron a los niños que se encontraban en ese momento en la estación, amenazaron a las mujeres con golpearlas, le taparon la boca a una menor y le lastimaron la mano, y una señora fue arrastrada violentamente de la radio.

El pasado 13 de junio, la señora Rosa Cruz recibió un citatorio solicitándole su comparecencia en la Agencia Segunda Investigadora del Ministerio Público de la Federación ubicada en Uruapan, Michoacán en calidad de indiciada por la comisión del delito previsto en el artículo 150 de la Ley General de Bienes Nacionales, el cual alcanza hasta 12 años de prisión.

Este caso se suma al de otras radios, como la Radio Tierra y Libertad, en contra de las cuales la Comisión Federal de Telecomunicaciones (Cofetel) y la Secretaría de Gobernación (Segob) han iniciado procedimientos penales seguidos de la utilización desmedida de la fuerza pública en el cierre de las emisoras. La persistencia por parte de las autoridades en la utilización de la legislación penal, en lugar de la administrativa – suficiente para recuperar la frecuencia-, constituye la continuidad de una política persecutoria y de criminalización en contra de las radios comunitarias, en este caso lo hace además en contra de una mujer indígena que tiene que enfrentar todo el peso de la ley en una situación muy grave de vulnerabilidad por su situación de pobreza y escasos recursos de defensa por su dificultad para hablar en español.

La persecución penal en contra de personas que ejercen su derecho a la libertad de expresión en comunidades en situación de vulnerabilidad, constituye una vía excesiva, desproporcional e innecesaria, sobre todo cuando estas radios han demostrado su voluntad de legalidad y es la misma autoridad la que ha fallado en dar respuesta a sus solicitudes de permiso.

Cabe recordar que los organismos internacionales dedicados a la defensa de los derechos humanos han dicho que la vía penal sólo debe emplearse para proteger los bienes jurídicos fundamentales de los ataques más graves que los dañen o pongan en peligro. El derecho penal es la última razón y por tanto su aplicación debe ser subsidiaria, es decir deben privilegiarse otras vías, de no ser así su empleo resulta abusivo y criminalizante.

Las radios comunitarias, por su naturaleza, aunque emplearan el espectro radioeléctrico sin permiso, en ninguna forma ponen en peligro ni generan un daño grave al bien, pues las radios tienen fines estrictamente sociales. Por tanto, el empleo de la vía penal no resulta necesaria ni proporcional, pues hay medios menos lesivos para que el Estado salvaguarde el espectro radioeléctrico.

Por tanto, las organizaciones firmantes expresan su rechazo en contra de esta política de criminalización en contra de integrantes de radios comunitarias y hacen un llamado urgente a las autoridades a fin de que cesen esta persecución y lleven a cabo las acciones necesarias a fin de resolver las solicitudes pendientes de permiso de manera inmediata.

Organizaciones Firmantes:
- Asociación Mundial de Radios Comunitarias (AMARC-México)
- Asociación Mexicana de Derecho a la Información (AMEDI)
- Centro de Derechos Humanos “Fray Francisco de Vitoria O.P”
- Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez
- Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CMDPDH)
- Fundar, Centro de Análisis e Investigación
- Instituto Mexicano de Derechos Humanos y Democracia, A.C.
- Red por los Derechos de la Infancia en México
- Academia Mexicana de Derechos Humanos, A.C
- Elige Red De Jovenes Por Los Derechos Sexuales Y Reproductivos A.C
- Red Nacional de Organismos Civiles "Todos los derechos para todos y todas"

El video con uno de los testimonios puede consultarse en la siguiente página:

Bolivian Rapper Killed by Bus

El Alto-based hip-hop artist Abraham Bojorquez died early in the morning on Wednesday, May 20 in El Alto, Bolivia. He was killed when a bus hit him as he walking home.

Abraham, 26 years old, was a member of the popular hip-hop group Ukamau y Ké, and in recent years had become increasingly well known within Bolivia and internationally. His music blended ancient Andean folk styles and new hip-hop beats with lyrics about revolution and social change. Abraham Bojorquez in Wayna Tambo

Through his music he demanded justice for those killed in the 2003 Gas War, spread political consciousness, spoke of the reality of life in El Alto, and criticized the lying corporate media. He was a radio host at the cultural center Wayna Tambo in El Alto, and regularly traveled around Bolivia to prisons, rural and mining communities to offer classes on hip-hop to young rappers.Medios Mentirosos

....Abraham had a very clear analysis of the misinformation put out by corporate and right wing media, and often rapped and spoke about the "lying media." As an artist and radio host, he also spoke regularly about the need to provide alternative, honest information about what was really happening around the world – the real stories about police repression, the root causes of poverty, corporate looting, as well as popular struggles and social change in Latin America. He seriously believed in the struggle to provide and distribute these real stories, so that they would become a part of the official history, and people didn’t go through life without knowing the truth about politics, society and history.
Text by Benjamin Dangl
For the complete story on Abraham:

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Clemencia Rodriguez and CINEP's First Video Project

..."The next day, sure enough, at sun up they were there with five mules to pick us up-- us and our very shiny, new video camera and so we got on the mules, Claudia on one mule and myself on another and we put the equipment on another one and up we went on an Andean trail until we found this community of small farmers (Samana Caldas) which was about two hours away. The plan for that day and the following days... to train them with video, for they had never operated not even a photography camera let alone a video camera."

Friday, June 12, 2009

Saving the Land with Video

"The Deccan Development Society is projecting a working model for the people oriented participative development in the areas of food security, ecological agriculture, and alternate education. It is also trying to reverse the historical process of degradation of the environment and people's livelihood system in this region through a string of land related activities such as Perma-culture, Community Grain Bank, Community Gene Fund, Community Green Fund and Collective Cultivation through land Lease etc. These activities, along side taking on the role of Earth care is also resulting in human care, by giving the Women a new found dignity and profile in their village communities. The Society is trying to relocate the people's knowledge in the area of Health and Agriculture."

The Deccan women's video workshops have active for over ten years. Deep Dish commissioned the women to update the documentary that they had made about their work in 1998. These are some excerpts from that initial documentary and statements by recent participants. Now, more than ever, the work they are doing is important. Their tapes of saving local seeds and their documents of biodiversity are crucially important in an era when "Free Trade" regulations are imposing corporate farming practices in rural India.

"The Deccan Development Society (DDS), is a two-decade old grassroots organization working in about 75 villages with women’s Sanghams (voluntary village level associations of the poor) in Medak District of Andhra Pradesh. The 5000 women members of the Society represent the poorest of the poor in their village communities. Most of them are dalits, the lowest group in the Indian social hierarchy. In 2001, the video and radio women formed themselves into a rural women’s media collective known as the DDS Community Media Trust which includes their own radio station. The DDS FM Radio is five year old and has canned nearly five hundred hours of programmes.

They predominantly work with issues like agricultural needs of semi-arid regions, education and literacy, public health and hygiene, environmental and ecological issues, biodiversity and food security, gender justice, local/indigenous knowledge systems and emphasis on traditional folk culture. The Community Media Trust (CMT) has an active community video and radio unit. They have been producing audios and videos for the past six years now. The radio station is very keen on a participative approach to media. Independent registration of the CMT validates that the station is moving towards self sustainability, community management and ownership. The content produced by the media trust reflects community needs by creating awareness and by promoting community participation."

For a photo essay about the Deccan work, go to the article by Alfonso Gumucio Dagron at:

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pirates Take on Corporate Media in Venice

Pirate Bay heads to Venice art Biennale
File-sharing site sets up 'Embassy of Piracy'
Call them Pirates of the Lagoon. A recent jail sentence and multimillion-dollar fine don't seem to have taken much wind out of the sails of notorious Swedish file-sharing site the Pirate Bay. Pirate Bay organizers disembarked amid fanfare at the prestigious June 3-8 Venice art Biennale and adjacent lagoon and set up an "Embassy of Piracy" within the exhibit's unofficial Internet Pavilion, offering "piracy labs" to the public. It was a clear challenge to Italian authorities with which they have clashed in the past.

The artistic part of their lagoon stunt consisted of an appeal to download and print foldable paper pyramid models, called embassies, from their website.

Provocation comes as a grassroots Pirate Bay political party is gaining consensus in Sweden in the run-up to European elections. Meanwhile, U.K. Media Minister Andy Burnham pledged June 2 to step up cooperation with the U.S. against illegal downloads of music, films and TV shows.

But, signaling a somewhat soft stance, the Blighty pol cautioned he doesn't want to "criminalize young people who have just gotten used to enjoying music in new ways." (From Variety, June 5, 2009)