For Indigenous Reporters, Covering Protests, Land Disputes Can Lead to Arrest

Dalia Faheid writes on VOA News about some of the challenges facing indigenous journalists covering land disputes.

For nearly three months Anastasia Mejía, a radio journalist and a member of the Maya K’iche’ indigenous group in Guatemala, has been under house arrest.

The director of local broadcaster Xol Abaj Radio and Xol Abaj TV, who covered protests over alleged corruption by the municipal Joyabaj government, was arrested September 22 as she walked down a street with her son.

When police stopped Mejía, they asked for her identification card but did not explain why she was being arrested, Dánae Vílchez, Central America correspondent at the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), told VOA. Instead, police asked their superiors how they should proceed and were told to take her to a police station. Two hours later, Mejía appeared before a judge.

Mejía was charged with sedition, aggravated attack, arson and aggravated robbery for participating in a protest. But press freedom groups say the journalist was there only to report on unrest.

Latin America has a rapidly growing movement of indigenous journalists who are championing indigenous rights violated by the state, corporations and gangs, said Avex Cojti, community media program manager at Cultural Survival, an indigenous people’s advocacy organization. But, she said, the criminalization of indigenous journalists in countries such as Guatemala is commonplace.

You can read the full article, here, on the VOA News website.

Categories: Corruption, Criminalisation, Culture, Environment, Genocide, Guatemala, Human Rights, Indigenous peoples, Justice, Land, Mining, Poverty, Resource Extraction, Solidarity in Action, Violence

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