IFJ Welcomes Action Against Media Ordinance in Nepal

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation representing more than 500,000 journalists in over 110 countries, has welcomed recent support for journalists combating the unconstitutional media ordinance in Nepal.

“The IFJ congratulates the courage of Nepalese journalists, and acknowledges the hard work of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) in combating King Gyanendra’s repressive media laws,” said IFJ president Christopher Warren.

“In such a dark time, it is inspiring to see such strong solidarity among journalists in Nepal and support from the international community in the fight against the government’s oppressive media ordinance,” said Warren in a letter to FNJ president Bishnu Nisthuri.

Supreme Court issues stay order

The Supreme Court has issued an interim stay order to the government, preventing it from taking action against Kantipur FM until October 30, when a decision will be on both the Kantipur case, and on the media ordinance itself.

The stay order has stopped the government’s plan to cancel Kantipur FM’s licence, after the station allegedly ignored the government’s warning to stop broadcasting news programs.

The government gave the station only 24 hours to provide a written explanation as to why it had not stopped its news broadcasts, threatening to shut them down if the explanation was not satisfactory.

The IFJ welcomes this move by the Supreme Court, and urges them to use the same sense of justice and commitment to the 1990 constitution when deciding on the media ordinance case on October 30.

IFJ president Christopher Warren has written to the Nepalese Government condemning their recent attacks on Kantipur FM, and expressing its opposition to the media ordinance.

The IFJ has also written to the FNJ in an open letter to Nepalese journalists congratulating them on their solidarity, courage and hard work and offering support.

Human fortification around Kantipur

Hundreds of journalists formed a human shield around the Kantipur FM station yesterday to protect it from another attack by government forces.

Media workers began gathering outside the station at 7.30am yesterday to sign a solidarity register for support of the radio station.

This brave move came after the government threatened to revoke the station’s licence. Many feared a repeat of October 21, when armed police officers stormed the offices and looted vital equipment from Kantipur FM.

International support for Kantipur FM

Several international organisations and individuals have expressed their support for the Nepalese media and their condemnation of the government’s actions against Kantipur FM.

US Senator Tom Daschle said he was saddened by the government’s move to shut down a station guilty of nothing more than broadcasting the news, and applauded the courage of Kantipur FM staff.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said the media ordinance is a violation of international standards, and it found the restrictions included in the new media ordinance too broad, ambiguously worded, and insufficiently focused on a specific threat.

UN Resident Representative to Nepal, Mathew Kahane personally delivered a letter of solidarity to FNJ president Bishnu Nisthuri, offering the UN’s support.

Major parties organise strike to protest ordinance

Nepal’s seven major political parties called a general strike on October 28 to protest both the attack on Kantipur FM, and the media ordinance itself.

A spokesperson for the Nepali Congress, Krishna Sitoula, called on all people to join the strike by closing markets, transport services, schools and offices in Kathmandu Valley.

He said the media ordinance was not only a blow to press freedom, but an attack on the fundamental rights of the people.

The seven-party alliance said press freedom was the pillar of multiparty democracy, and assured journalists the alliance would strongly defend their freedom.

“The IFJ is extremely pleased by the recent outpouring of support for the FNJ and Kantipur FM, and urges organisations and individuals around the world to offer their own support to the Nepalese media in this time of crisis,” said the IFJ president.

“We urge the brave journalists in Nepal to continue their fight for press freedom, and we assure them that the world is watching and supporting them in their struggle,” said Warren.

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