25 May 2012

Report

Solidarity, a key to security, eludes press


(CPJ/IFEX) - May 25, 2012 - The following is a CPJ Blog post:

By Frank Smyth/Senior Adviser for Journalist Security

No other journalists are remembered quite like this. Visitors looking through the glass display at the Monsignor Romero Center & Martyrs Museum in San Salvador see the pajamas and other clothes that three Jesuit university priests were wearing when they were shot down by automatic rifle fire. A series of clear containers are filled with dark blades of grass cut from the campus lawn where each had spilled his blood.

These priests were slain back in 1989 by El Salvador's U.S.-backed military leadership during the largest battle of the nation's long civil war. In a decision seen as a press freedom milestone, CPJ considered the three university Jesuits (who were slain along with three other Jesuits, their housekeeper, and her daughter to eliminate witnesses) to be journalists. The names of Ignacio Ellacuría, Ignacio Martín-Baró, and Segundo Montes are also etched into the glass plates of the Journalists Memorial at the Newseum in Washington.

The three university Jesuits had independently chronicled events and criticized policies through a decade of war after tens of thousands of Salvadorans, many of them independent critics, were murdered or driven into exile. At a time when two right-wing dailies dominated domestic news, the Jesuit university weekly newsletter and bimonthly journal ran analysis and commentary along with select foreign stories in translation, including a few of mine.

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