The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned at news from its affiliate, the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ),that the hand of a freelance journalist, Manoj Sah, was cut off in a brutal attack in eastern Nepal.
Mr Sah, who reportedly is linked with the Maoist-allied Revolutionary Journalists’ Association, was reportedly attacked by a dozen people armed with weapons in the Chamur area of Janakpur while he was returning home from his office on January 17. According to the FNJ’s Dhanusha chapter president, Ashok Rauniyar, one of the attackers said to Mr Sah, “Aren’t you writing news with these hands?”. The attacker then cut his wrists with a sharp weapon.
Mr Sah was admitted to the Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu with serious injuries to his hands and head. His condition is no longer considered to be life-threatening.
Mr Ruaniyar said the attack was believed to be linked to an article by Mr Sah in the local daily Bishwojagaran about a controversy regarding the Janaki Temple. He had allegedly received threats a few days before the assault, warning him not to write the article.
The attack follows the murder of Pushkar Shrestha, the editor of the weekly New Highway and New Season, in the Birgunj region on January 12.
It also came while an international press freedom mission to Nepal, supported by the FNJ and including a representative of the IFJ, appealed directly to senior authorities to take tough action to protect journalists, who are facing increasing risks of violence in the lead-up to Constituent Assembly elections scheduled for April 10.
On January 18, the Home Minister, Krishna Pd. Siraula, assured the FNJ and mission members that he would prioritise the safety of journalists and media institutions. He noted the critical importance of a free and fair media in assisting Nepal’s transition to democracy.
IFJ Asia-Pacific’s Director, Jacqueline Park, reiterated the call for Nepal’s security officials to act decisively to protect journalists and defend free expression, and to investigate promptly and thoroughly all acts of violence against journalists, including the attack on Mr Sah.
“The leaders of all political parties must make the security of media personnel a priority. The progress of press freedom in Nepal cannot improve unless authorities show respect for the role of the media in a democracy and take serious measures to improve the safety of journalists in the conduct of their professional duties,” Ms Park said.
The IFJ joins the FNJ in demanding an immediate and thorough investigation into the attack on Mr Sah and all other journalists killed or violently assaulted, and calls on the authorities to ensure those responsible are brought to justice.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries
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