Journalists and Media Targeted by Agitators in Nepal’s Political Turmoil

 

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls

on all Nepal’s political parties to publicly disavow and condemn the wave of

violence directed against journalists and media over the last five days,

coinciding with a nation-wide agitation launched by a newly formed political

alliance seeking to push their case for a federal political order.

 

On behalf of all international partners and the South

Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN), the IFJ has earlier expressed its strong sense of outrage at the targeted attacks on journalists on the first

day of the campaign launched by the Nepal Federation of Indigenous

Nationalities (NEFIN). Despite worldwide expressions of concern, this pattern

persisted all through the three-day long agitation and well afterwards.

 

On Monday May 21, the second day of the NEFIN campaign,

the FNJ’s media rights monitoring network registered targeted attacks against

Prakash Adhikar, correspondent in Chitwan district for Sagarmatha Television,

and Radheyshyam Khatiwada in the same district. In the Lalitput borough of

Kathmandu city, Rameshwar Sapkota, Dharmendra Sapkota, Pratikshya Sharma and

Mukti Shreshta – all of Mountain Television – and Ashok Tuladhar of AbhiyanDaily, were assaulted. Tuladhar sustained serious head injuries.

Also attacked in the same area were Nabaraj Shreshta and Nirmal Wali, both of

whom work for News 24 Television. In another part of Kathmandu, the motorcycle

belonging to reporter Pawan Barsha Shah of KarobarDaily was vandalised.

 

On May 22, the third day of the agitation, Dhruba

Basnet of Star FM was also manhandled by protestors at Bhaktapur, the eastern

suburb of Kathmandu city. In the Koteswor area of the city, a vehicle belonging

to Mountain television was attacked and badly damaged and some of the staff

travelling in it reported that their personal belongings were stolen.

 

A clear intent to intimidate journalists was evident

in the press release issued by the sponsors of the agitation in Nuwakot

district, in the central region of Nepal, which charges a senior FNJ

functionary, Dhruba Rawal, with biased and negative reporting, explicitly

holding him responsible for any harm he may come to.

 

Certain attacks have been clearly attributed

to particular political factions. For instance, the May 21 attack on Deepa Ale

of Sagarmatha Television in Nepalganj, in the western terai region, was carried

out by the Tharuwan Joint Struggle Committee, which is campaigning for a

separate state in the region. Ale suffered serious injuries around her eyes and

her motorcycle was badly damaged.

 

There have also been efforts to stop the distribution

of newspapers, as in Narayangud of Chitwan district on May 21, when a van

carrying the GorkhapatraDaily was stopped and vandalised. That

intent was also apparent on May 24, when activists of the Broader Madhesi Front burnt copies of Kantipur and Annapurna Post – Nepali and English language newspapers published

by one of Nepal’s largest media groups – in Biratnagar district in the eastern

terai region.

 

“We are appalled at what is clearly

a planned and persistent pattern of violence against journalists and media, as

the process of writing a new constitution for Nepal’s republican order enters a

decisive phase and seems likely to end in deadlock”, said the IFJ Asia-Pacific.

 

“The IFJ calls on all of

Nepal’s political parties and civil society actors to recognise the need for a

broad public debate on the issues that have contributed to this prolonged

deadlock in the constitution writing process.

 

“To impede the media, and to

block and attack journalists in the performance of their duties, only deepens

mutual hostilities since it effectively closes off an important channel for the

public to air their opinions and aspirations”.

 

The IFJ took part in the International Fact Finding and Advocacy Mission to Nepal (also known as the International Media Mission), which visited Nepal from 23 to 27 February 2012 to assess the media freedom situation in the country.

 

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on

+612 9333 0950

 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in

131 countries

 

Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

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