Maputo — The Mozambican chapter of the regional press freedom body, MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa), has strongly condemned the arson attack against the premises of the independent weekly "Canal de Mocambique".
The arsonists attacked shortly after 20.00 on Sunday night, and left the paper's offices a smouldering ruin.
MISA-Mozambique, describing the attack as "barbaric and cowardly", said it should be seen "in the context of an overall strategy set in motion by the most backward forces in our society to overturn democracy in Mozambique by shaking the pillars that sustain it".
In a Monday press release, MISA warns that "there can never be democracy in a society where the institutions of freedom of expression and freedom of the press are the victims of systematic intimidation and threats".
The criminals were completely pitiless, MISA adds, since their arson also threatened the lives and property of people living in the same building as the "Canal de Mocambique" offices.
The freedoms of expression and of the press are enshrined in the Mozambican constitution, MISA points out, yet they are regularly violated, and those responsible for these violations are not held responsible for their acts.
"The regularity and impunity with which these acts have been occurring may suggest that he criminals have strong links with important sectors in the state hierarchy", adds MISA.
MISA demands that the authorities clear up this crime as quickly as possible, with exemplary punishment of those responsible, and should "take the necessary measures to ensure that identical cases never happen again".
The European Union ambassador to Mozambique, Antonio Sanchez-Benedito Gaspar, took to Twitter to express his outrage at the attack. He tweeted his "great concern" at the arson, and declared his solidarity with the "Canal de Mocambique" management and work force.
"At this moment, I would like to reiterate the importance of a free press, and the need always to preserve it", Gaspar added.