Journalists in Nepal Plan Nation-wide Protests After Latest Attack


The International Federation of

Journalists (IFJ) extends its support and solidarity to its affiliate, the

Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), as it commences a series of nation-wide

actions to protest the latest attack on a journalist in the country.


The events will begin with

black-band protests all over the country and an active process of lobbying with

national and international human rights bodies for their involvement in

addressing the latest attack and the overall climate of impunity that prevails.


All political parties, especially

those in the current ruling coalition, will be urged to make public statements

about their attitude towards press freedom and the safety of journalists.

Interactions with editors in the

capital, Kathmandu, and all district towns

will be held on June 26, followed the next day by discussions with all major

trade unions.


This will be followed by

demonstrations outside the Constituent Assembly building in Kathmandu

and the principal administrative offices in most districts.


“The IFJ fully endorses the demands

the FNJ has placed before Nepali authorities to end the climate of impunity

that prevails for attacks on journalists and put in place sound guarantees of

physical safety and professional security for news gatherers all over the

country,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director

Jacqueline Park said.


“The FNJ has led this struggle and

produced notable victories in the past, principally in the realm of legislation

and public commitments by the political leadership. However, the record of

implementation leaves a great deal to be desired.”


The FNJ protests follow the attack

on Khila Nath Dhakal, correspondent for the Nepali-language daily Naagarak,

in Biratnagar in southeast Nepal.

Biratnagar is Nepal’s

second largest city and part of the extended terai region (or

southeastern plains) where competitive politics between different ethnic groups

has caused serious security worries for journalists.


Dhakal was attacked on June 5 by

cadre of the Youth Force, an affiliate of the Communist Party of Nepal (United

Marxist-Leninist) which heads Nepal’s

governing coalition. He received several phone calls from Youth Force municipal

committee Chairman Rabin Koirala demanding an immediate meeting before the

attack. When he presented himself for a pre-appointed meeting, Dhakal was taken

to a remote and isolated place by motorcycle and badly assaulted by over ten

cadre of the Youth Force.


The attack is believed to have been

in direct retribution for certain stories published by Dhakal on the

involvement of a leader of the Youth Force in Biratnagar district, in certain

unlawful activities in recent times.


Following a meeting between the FNJ

leadership and Nepal’s

Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal, two arrests have been made for the attack,

though the person who allegedly ordered it is still at large.


Convictions in Uma Singh Murder Welcomed


The IFJ meanwhile welcomes the

verdict by the Dhanusha district court in the terai town of Janakpur sentencing two to

life in prison for the murder of Uma Singh, a reporter for Janakpur Today and Radio Janakpur, in January 2009. The brutal

murder led to nation-wide protests by the FNJ and international expressions of

outrage. Local authorities quickly arrested five persons though the individual

who allegedly ordered the killing has since remained elusive.


Lalita Singh and Nemlal Paswan have

now been found guilty of the murder, while the three other accused, Shravan

Yadav, Bimlesh Yadav and Akhilesh Singh, have been acquitted.


“We are encouraged by this verdict,

which comes soon after the killers of the journalist Birendra Sah in October

2007 were found guilty and given life sentences by the district court in Bara,”

Park said.


The IFJ joins the FNJ in urging

Nepali authorities to make all efforts to bring Umesh (alias Swami) Yadav to

trial for allegedly ordering Singh’s murder.


An IFJ capsule report on the killing

of Uma Singh, issued in March 2009, is available here.



For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +61 2 9333 0919



represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries


Find the

IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific


Find the

IFJ on Facebook here