Global Community Radio Under Seige

This is very disturbing news that I heard rumors about yesterday and have had confirmed today. Radio for Peace Int’l, a global non-profit shortwave radio station located in Costa Rica, has been locked down by armed guards working for the University of Peace, which is the station’s landlord. The University intends to evict the station in the next two weeks.

What’s most absurd about this situation is that the University of Peace was created by the United Nations for the very purpose of studying and furthering global peace, a goal that RFPI has always intended to further. But chaining up the station and surrounding it with armed guards is far from a peaceful action.

Here are details from an RFPI press release:

For Immediate Release

For More Information contact:

RFPI at email: info@rfpi.org

James Latham, CEO, RFPI: 011 (506) 249-1821

Naomi Fowler, Program Director, RFPI: 011 (506) 249-1821

Emily Morales, Operations, RFPI: 011 (506) 249-1821

US Contact: Jean Parker, Board of Directors: (303) 355-9935

On Monday, July 21, 2003, a University for Peace representative delivered
an eviction notice to Radio For Peace International (RFPI), a shortwave
radio station based since 1985 by mutual agreement on the University
campus in El Rodeo, Costa Rica. The Radio station’s access gate was locked
with chains and patrolled by armed guards employed by the University for
Peace, and two weeks were given to evacuate the facility.

Radio For Peace employees made a plea to the armed guards to allow them to
leave the locked premises on Monday night, although some have not left the
premises since the eviction notice.

According to James Latham, Chief Executive Officer of Radio for Peace
International, the extreme, unexplained, and legally questionable decision
to evict RFPI endangers the livelihood of the station’s employees, as well
as the voice of peace on international airwaves. “This is more than an
eviction, this is about the right to free speech,” says Latham. “What is
most shocking and sad is that this action comes from an international
peace organization.”

University for Peace co-founder and former Costa Rican President Rodrigo
Carazo Odio invited RFPI in 1985 to build and manage its own office and
studios on the university’s Costa Rica campus, from which RFPI has been
transmitting messages of peace and hope to the planet since 1987. RFPI is
the only shortwave radio station dedicated to peace and social justice in
the Western Hemisphere is the only one that transmits daily United Nations
programming.

Latham says that Monday’s eviction notice represents poor judgment on
behalf of the new administration at the University for Peace, a United
Nations mandated university established in 1980. “RFPI has always shown
goodwill towards the University for Peace. Our shared goals in the
elimination of war is what brought our two organizations together and
there is much work still to be done. Instead of focusing on how to
eliminate a fellow peace organization, we need to channel our energy
toward eliminating war, poverty and hunger.”

Concerned parties are advised to write UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in
support of the radio station at: annan@un.org or sg@un.org, and/or to
leave a message of concern with the Public Inquiries office at
212.963.4475.

Press events and solidarity actions are currently being planned and
notifications will be sent out shortly.

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