IFJ Condemns Police Looting of Radio Station in Nepal after Nationwide Protests

The International Federation of Journalists today condemned the latest move by the Nepalese Government to silence independent media in the country.

On October 21, dozens of armed police officers stormed into the Kantipur FM Station and seized vital equipment, including an encoder, satellite modem and digital audio recorder.

The attack, moments before midnight, came on the eve of the station’s seventh anniversary, and just hours after nationwide protests condemned the new media ordinance.

“Kantipur FM has remained proudly independent and committed to informing the Nepalese community since the royal coup in February, and it is vital that it continues its work in exposing human rights abuses and corruption in the king’s regime,” said IFJ president Christopher Warren.

The IFJ’s affiliate, the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) said the looting was the most autocratic action by the government since King Gyanendra took over state power on February 1.

A delegation from the Ministry of Information and Communications approached the station earlier in the day on October 21, claiming Kantipur FM had violated the new media ordinance, which forbids simultaneous transmission from more than one place.

Kantipur FM has had a license to transmit programs to areas outside Kathmandu through a relay station in eastern Nepal since 2000, and the station’s manager Prabhat Rimal said the broadcast was legal.

Kantipur FM was Nepal’s first privately owned independent FM station, without its equipment, the service is now only available in Kathmandu Valley. A protest rally of over 1000 journalists, activists, teachers, lawyers, students and civilians was co-ordinated by the FNJ on October 21, only a few hours before the attack on Kantipur FM.

The station has prepared a case for the Supreme Court, demanding the return of their equipment and the annulment of the new media ordinance. The IFJ supports the FNJ’s call for the government to return the looted equipment immediately, and allow Kantipur FM to resume its normal operation.

For more information about the Nepal crisis visit http://www.ifj-asia.org/page/nepalcrisis.html

For further information contact Christopher Warren on +61 (0) 411 757 668
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries