The International Federation of Journalists, the world's largest journalists' organisation, today condemned a bomb attack that destroyed the offices of the independent radio station The Voice of the People in Harare, Zimbabwe. The IFJ accused the authorities in Zimbabwe of "fuelling a hate campaign" against independent media and called for the government of Robert Mugabe to bring the bombers to justice.
According to news reports three men went into the premises of the Voice of the People radio station, the Harare office of a Dutch based broadcaster, and threw a bomb inside the building. The whole building was razed to the ground and everything inside was destroyed. The bomb was thrown around 1 in the morning on August 29, and nobody is reported to have been injured.
"This station has faced victimization and its determination to resist is a sign of professional courage set against a media hate campaign fuelled by the authorities," said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ.
The Voice of the People has been repeatedly criticized by the government for circumventing a ban on independent broadcasting in Zimbabwe by sending recorded material in Zimbabwe's local languages for transmission from The Netherlands. Press freedom groups in the regions say the station was raided on July the 4th by the police and officers from the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), in search of a transmitter and other broadcasting equipment. The police failed to find a transmitter, but confiscated tapes and files from the office.
Earlier this year the government banned two independent radio stations and has enacted sweeping media control laws that have lead to the arrest and charging of twelve independent journalists. "This latest incident shows that the campaign against independent media is being waged in a ruthless manner that makes a mockery of Zimbabwe's claims to respect freedom of expression," said White.