Nepalese journalists intimidated for critical reporting, workers demand better conditions

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is alarmed by the continued harassment of Nepalese journalists for their critical reporting.

“The sustained personal threats and attacks made by various groups is having a detrimental effect on press freedom in Nepal, and is undoing the very foundations of democracy the Nepalese people are trying to rebuild,” IFJ President Christopher Warren said.

Editor receives death threats
In the most recent incident to be reported by the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), an affiliate of the IFJ, Santosh Neupane, editor and publisher of Narayani Express National Daily, received death threats from Maoist supporters on April 22.

According to the FNJ, an unidentified Maoist representative phoned Neupane and threatened to kill him and set fire to his newspaper’s office.

The threats came after Neupane published critical reports on clashes with Maoists, including the conflict between Maoists and locals on April 16 at Bashmadi, in Makawanpur, and a row between the Young Communist League (YCL) and a timber contractor on April 18.

Prior to the threatening phone call, a group of Maoists at the Manahari Bazaar in Makawanpur, reportedly halted traffic and demanded Neupane meet with them to apologise and seek forgiveness.   

Hospital Committee Chairman threatens: “I will kill these types of journalists”
The FNJ reports that the chairperson of the Rasuwa Hospital Development Committee threatened Kantipur daily correspondent, Krishna Thapa, on April 19, for failing to cover a health camp which was organised by the hospital.

In a shocking statement, the chairperson, Minnath Devkota, reportedly said “I will kill these types of journalists”.

Journalist ambushed and held hostage by Maoists
Rameshwor Bohara, a correspondent for Himal and Damodar Bhandari from the Annapurna daily in Rolpa, were reportedly ambushed by a Maoist team on April 19.

Bohara was detained for a few hours, and his camera was seized, the FNJ reports.

Random physical attack against Rajdjani daily
Two unidentified armed persons reportedly staged an attack on the office of the Rajdhani daily in Chabihil, Kathmandu on April 19.

According to local reports, staff were targeted and two motorcycles were damaged in the attack.

It is unclear if anyone was seriously injured, but the staff did manage to flee back into the building.

Nepal 1 staff stage sit-in demanding better working conditions
On April 19, employees of Nepal 1 Television, shut down the offices in protest for better working conditions and the honouring of a collective agreement.

The employees had presented demands for a collective agreement which consisted of 15 employment conditions, including adequate appointment letters, life insurance for all staff, salary on time and leave allowances.  However, these demands were ignored by management.

IFJ President Christopher wrote to Nepal 1 management today in support of the action taken by employees and to urge management to address the issues immediately.

“It deeply concerning that not only are employees of a Nepalese media organisation struggling to have their most basic working rights recognised, but Nepalese journalists all over the country continue to be targeted, often violently, for their work,” said the president of the IFJ, the organisation representing more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries.

“The Nepalese government has a responsibility to its people to ensure both the working rights and basic human rights of journalists are protected, to make certain the future of Nepal as a thriving, healthy democracy, is realised,” Warren said.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries