By María Aguilar
Thirzia Karina Galeas Núñez fled the country after denouncing persecution and threats against her life by agents of the government of Juan Orlando Hernández
Atlanta, United States. Thirzia Karina Galeas Núñez, a Honduran journalist, was detained in Georgia on May 27 when she requested political asylum after being threatened and assaulted since 2010 by President Juan Orlando Hernández’s administration (2014-present) and by former President Porfirio Lobo (2010-2014).
The 34-year-old journalist is detained in Stewart Detention Center located in Lumpkin, Ga. Galeas, who currently operates as a freelance journalist, has worked for different media, including Conexihon and C-Libre.
Additionally, Galeas investigates topics related to free speech, access to public information, and the murders of journalists, especially in rural areas, among other topics.
Honduras, a dangerous place for journalists
More than 100 journalists were victims of assault and violence in 2020, per a C-Libre report. The Institution for the Defense of Human Rights additionally stated that several reporters have been judicially harassed because of their journalistic work to the point of maximum censorship with the murders of four journalists: German Vallecillo Jr., Jorge Posas, Luis Almendares and Pedro Canelas. These numbers represent a concerning pattern of intimidation and attacks to the press.
Thirzia Galeas received her first threat during the presidency of Porfirio Lobo. She has received similar threats under the Hernández administration. While she covered protests, the tear gas thrown at the demonstrators deteriorated her health. Since then, she has had to take medication due to the excessive force employed by Honduran authorities.
Locked up, threatened, and without medication
Galeas, detained since Thursday, has not received medical attention by immigration authorities to counter the health problems she suffers due to her journalistic work. Galeas sent a voice note to her family in which she informed them that she is deprived of her liberty in a small cell with other people who have COVID-19. Galeas said she is scared of becoming infected.
An agent who works in the Hernandez administration directly threatened Galeas and told her that her “head had a price” for the information she had obtained through her investigations. The agent also showed Galeas messages that evidenced she was being persecuted.
In November 2020, Galeas, along with her colleagues, delivered aid to journalists who had been affected by the storms Eta and Iota. While they distributed humanitarian aid, a government vehicle followed the journalist.
Galeas is a fellow of the International Women’s Media Foundation and has denounced the threats to C-Libre and to the Committee of Families of Disappeared Detainees of Honduras (COFADEH).