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Alleged Attacks on Online Media Follow the Tragic Death by Fire of Young Women in Guatemala

Mujeres prenden velas el 8 de marzo de 2017 en la Ciudad de Guatemala. Foto de Carlos Sebastián para Nómada. Usada bajo licencia Creative Commons.

Women leave candles on May 8th in Guatemala City. Photo: Carlos Sebastián for the online media Nómada. Used under Creative Commons -non specified- licence.

The same week in which Latin America hit the streets and the net to defend women's rights, the regional public was in uproar over the death of 40 young women inside a shelter on the edges of Guatemala City.

The tragedy took place after the young women protested against alleged sexual abuses ongoing inside the shelter. According to reports, the protests ended in brutal crackdowns, with the young women kept locked up inside the shelter. According to local media, the girls burned a mattress in order to try and escape, but the authorities kept them locked in. The final death toll in the subsequent fire, according to local and international media, rose to 40.

The story was well covered across online media outlets and on social media. Among those media covering the story was Guatemalan outlet NomadaGT, where the recorded testimonies of some of the young women were published.

Shortly after publishing the audios, some users and activists decried an apparent DDoS attack (a ‘denial-of-service-attack’, in which multiple users or computers try to access a site until it crashes due to traffic) on NomadaGT:

In this moment, @nomadagt is going through a DDoS attacked (a denial of service attack) #FreedomOfSpeech.

The website Guatemala Shafaqna said:

El portal de noticias Nómada entrevistó a dos de las menores sobrevivientes de la tragedia del Hogar Seguro Virgen de la Asunción, sin embargo, luego de publicarlos han experimentado problema en su sitio. Las declaraciones fueron publicadas en la nota Audios: una policía le dijo a las niñas que se aguantaran el fuego [itálicas nuestras] escrita por la periodista Claudia Méndez Arriaza.

The news site [NómadaGT] interviewed two of the surviving girls of the tragedy of Hogar Seguro [the shelter where the protest and the fire took place] But after publishing them they had problems with their website. The testimonies were published in the note ‘Audios: a police officer told the girls to suck the fire up’ written by journalist Claudia Méndez Arriaza.

Other media republished the news and warned of the problems that NómadaGT had. Hours later, when normal service resumed, the notes were updated:

El portal de noticias Nómada entrevistó a dos de las menores sobrevivientes de la tragedia del Hogar Seguro Virgen de la Asunción, sin embargo, luego de publicarlos han experimentado problema en su sitio. Actualmente ya están reestablecidos.

The news site [NómadaGT] interviewed two of the surviving girls from the Hogar Seguro tragedy, but after publishing them, they had access problems. They're now back online.

Hours later, NómadaGT was reestablished, but the denial-of-service-attack remained important in the context of accusations that the Guatemalan State was responsible for the death of the young women.

If you spent all day trying to read the note, here it is, in full, on our Facebook page. We apologize for the delay. The crime against these girls will not go unpunished. #HogarSeguro

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