AMARC Europe wants to join the voice and support of Community Media in Europe to our colleagues in Mexico, that this week mourn the death of the community radio activist Rafael Murúa Manriquez. Below, we reproduce the press release issued by AMARC Mexico and Article 19 in Mexico.

Mexico City, January 21, 2019.- Community journalist Rafael Murúa Manriquez, director of community radio Radio Kashana and member of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC), which transmits from the community of Santa Rosalia, Baja California Sur , was disappeared and later assassinated by unknown subjects on January 20, 2019. For 2 years he had been a victim of aggressions and threats and had had protective measures from the federal authorities.

According to information collected by ARTICLE 19 and AMARC Mexico, through a relative whose name is kept anonymous for security reasons, the journalist had contact for the last time at around 20:00 hrs. of January 19. “Rafael called me to ask if everything was fine. I did not know more until at 2:00 hrs. (of the following day) I received the visit of a person (whose name is also omitted for security), who supposedly was with Rafael and who informed me that they had taken him away “.

This person saw Rafael for the last time, when he got out of the journalist’s car to enter a building for a few moments. When he came back, he saw the doors open and the engine still on, while a man was fleeing from the place.

Rafael had been a victim of aggressions and threats due his work as a communicator since 2017. These were further aggravated since June 1 of that year, when a person allegedly linked to organized crime started to send intimidating messages demanding that a post regarding a sentenced person be deleted and that news against the Secretary of the Navy (Semar) should be published.

According to the documentation of ARTICLE 19, the person who intimidated him at that time told Rafael that as soon as he eliminated the posthe could “go on to collect”(be paid). The journalist replied that he was not going to get into this matter, either in favour or against it, to which his interlocutor answered with a voice message: “I’m not asking you for a favour, I’m telling you to upload it, journalist!” from that moment, Rafael decided to self-censor himself, move temporarily outside his municipality with the support of AMARC Mexico and request his incorporation to the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists.

His relatives reported that the Federal Protection Mechanism, of the Ministry of the Interior (Segob), assigned some infrastructure measures in his home and a help button, however, until today they have not been completely installed. After a period displaced in 2017, Rafael decided to return to his hometown to continue with the Radio Kashana project.

Subsequently, on October 29, 2018, he published on his page #Gonzolador that he was being threatened by the municipal president of Mulegé, Felipe Prado, from a published article entitled “Public Safety does not matter to Felipe Prado”

In this blog, the journalist denounced that after the publication of that post, in the night “they were warning me that they were going to assassinate me soon. Two days later a crowd of adults knocked loudly, repeatedly, the bars of the garage of my home. Immediately at the other end of the house a bullet broke one of the windows on the second floor.”

From this, relatives confirmed that Rafael constantly affirmed that he was afraid. “He even told me that he was sure they wanted to disappear and kill him. This was in December 2018, but he was not convinced to leave because he did not want to leave community radio. “

It should be noted that the Attorney General’s Office of Baja California Sur issued a statement last night where it reported the finding of a lifeless body at kilometer 40 of the Santa Rosalía-San Ignacio road stretch, in the municipality of Mulegé, identifying Rafael Murder as the victim. In it, the state Attorney General said that “they proceeded to the insurance, packaging and registration in chain of custody of three packages with green and dry vegetable, with the characteristics of marijuana and other evidence.”

ARTICLE 19 and AMARC Chapter Mexico condemn the statement issued by the Baja California Sur Attorney’s Office, which points out and emphasizes the alleged finding of “marijuana” when it finds the body of Rafael Murúa. This pronouncement constitutes a stigmatising official discourse, tending to criminalise the victim and omits the fact that
Murúa worked as a journalist as well as the threats that he suffered and that were full known by the State.

Similarly, while in the initial statement the Attorney General affirmed that the journalist’s body was found with “various perforations in the thorax”, hours later the same Attorney General affirmed at a press conference that Murúa was found with a bullet shot to the head. These inconsistencies indicate the lack of rigor of the investigation and are a violation of the right of the journalist’s relatives to know the truth.

President Lopez Obrador in his first days of government said that “we will give protection to all citizens and journalists.” Facts such as those of the journalist Rafael Murúa, do not give clear signals to comply with their obligations of prevention and protection for journalists in the country.

In an open letter to the Mexican authorities, AMARC Mexico demands that the Federal Government led by Andrés Manuel López Obrador immediately disclose the strategy outlined to ensure a State policy that prevents, protects, investigates and repairs the damage of crimes and human rights violations committed against defenders of human rights and journalists.

As Mexico is one of the countries with the highest number of murders of journalists in the world, the federal government has a high responsibility in guaranteeing protection to journalists, so that they can carry out their work without any type of intimidation, threats or any aggression. It is vital that comprehensive policies are adopted with preventive approaches but also the fight against impunity will be a totally essential factor in the face of this problem.

ARTICLE 19 and AMARC Chapter Mexico require the government of Baja California Sur, headed by Carlos Mendoza Davis, as well as the authorities of the municipality of Mulegé, to comply fully, efficiently and without exception, with its obligations to protect and guarantee the freedom of expression and the journalistic work in the state, implementing the individual but also structural recommendations ofthe National Commission of Human Rights 91/2018, as well as those issued within the General Recommendation 24 / 2016, aimed at all state and municipal governments to take actions to guarantee the life, integrity, freedom and safety of journalists at risk.

Likewise, we urge the Special Prosecutor’s Office for the Attention of Crimes Committed against Freedom of Expression, to exercise its power of attraction regarding the disappearance and subsequent deprivation of the life of community journalists Rafael Murúa Manríquez, and to investigate the facts with diligence, efficiency and comprehensiveness, taking as its main line of investigation its journalistic work and the aggressions previously denounced.

Finally, the Federal Protection Mechanism is required to render an account of the actions and omissions generated by said institution in the case, as well as to guarantee the life, liberty, integrity and security of the family of Rafael Murúa, as well as of the journalists close to him. the.

From 2000 to date, ARTICLE 19 has documented a total of 122 journalists killed in Mexico. Just two months after the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador began, there have been two murders with some probable connection to his work: Jesús Alejandro Márquez in Nayarit, on December 2, 2018, and Rafael Murúa Manríquez, on January 20, 2019, in Baja California Sur.