IFJ Calls for Public Support for Media Freedom in Nepal as Attacks Continue

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is alarmed by a recent wave of attacks on the media in Nepal and calls for a strong public affirmation of the principle of media freedom by the country’s ruling authorities.


The Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), an IFJ affiliate, has recorded three incidents of concern, all in the country’s southern plains, or the Terai, adjoining the border with India.


In the first case, Gyanendra Raj Mishra, correspondent of Gadhimai FM radio and a member of the FNJ’s branch in the Parsa district, was injured when he was fired upon by a group of about four unidentified people about noon on February 19. The incident occurred near Narayani Stadium in the district town of Birgunj.


The attack on Mishra comes just over a month after the murder of journalist Uma Singh in Janakpur town in the Terai district of Dhanusha.


“The IFJ condemns the attack on Gyanendra Raj Mishra and joins the FNJ in calling for appropriate action to provide him with medical care and to bring those guilty to account,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.


On February 21, cadre of the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF), or the Madheshi People's Rights Forum, seized and set ablaze copies of the daily Bypass, published from Birgunj. Two youth leaders of the MJF, which is a partner in the ruling coalition in Nepal, were identified to be behind the incident, ostensibly to protest against “false” reporting about the party in the newspaper.


In a separate incident the same day, a group claiming to speak on behalf of the victims of last year’s devastating floods of the Kosi River commandeered a vehicle belonging to the Kantipur group of publications in the Haripur area of Sunsari district.


The group seized copies of the two newspapers published by the group from the national capital of Kathmandu and the Terai town of Biratnagar, and distributed them among the residents of a resettlement camp for flood victims.


The motive for the protest was Kantipur’s alleged neglect of the plight of the flood victims.


“The IFJ is alarmed at the belief, which seems to be growing, that the use of force is a legitimate means of redressing grievances about media content,” Park said.


“We call upon the ruling authorities and civil society in Nepal to strongly affirm respect for the principle that all disputes on media coverage and content can be resolved through a process of dialogue or constructive mediation.”


For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919


The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries