Police Violence Against Nepalese Journalists Spinning Out of Control, Says IFJ

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has written today to the Prime Minister of Nepal expressing extreme concern over the arrests and brutal beatings of Nepalese journalists on 7 May.


The IFJ, the global organisation of journalists representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, is extremely concerned over continued violence by police towards the media in Nepal. The latest incidents include the brutal beatings and arrests of journalists covering the sample referendum on Absolute Monarchy, Constitutional Monarchy and Republican Democracy in the main square of the Butawal municipality.


“It is outrageous that police continue to target independent journalists and the media in attempts to silence anti-Government sentiment,” said IFJ President Christopher Warren today.


“Journalists must be allowed to fulfill their journalistic duty, free from fear of arrest or physical violence,” said Warren. "We are extremely concerned about the deterioration of press freedom in Nepal.


According to reports from IFJ affiliate in Nepal, the Nepal Press Union, on 7 May armed police from Butawal Police Station attacked students and the general public. The police baton charged and fired tear gas suddenly into the crowd in order to disrupt the protest. Several journalists covering the event were injured and seven journalists were arrested and taken into police custody.


The referendum was organised by students of Butwal Commerce Campus. Thousands of people attended the referendum as a symbolic protest calling for the King to return political power to the elected Parliament.


In a separate incident, later that day, police arrested and brutally beat journalists who were witness to an angry crowd setting fire to a government vehicle in Milan Chowk Square in Butawal after police had disrupted the referendum. The journalists were taking lunch overlooking the square. Once police had chased the crowd from the square, they entered the restaurant and beat the journalists with batons and riffle butts. Twelve journalists were seriously injured and arrested and taken to Butawal Police station.


The journalists were released at 5:30pm on the day of their arrest due to pressure from NGOs, human rights groups, political leaders and members of civil society. The journalists were apologised to and rushed to the local government hospital by Mr. Saha, head of the Butawal police station.


These two events follow a number of incidents where journalists and media organisations have been targeted with violence and harassment during the month-long protests and political rallies calling for the King to return political power to the elected parliament.


The journalists who were seriously injured include; Dipak Gnawali, Sher Bahadur K.C, Yuvaraj Pandey, Dipendra Kunwar, Dipendra Baduwal, Jitendra G.C and Yanendra G.C. The journalists arrested and who sustained minor injuries were, Bharat K.C, Bishnu Ghimire, Ram Krishna Bhandari, Harisundar Basi and Bindu Kumar Chauhan. All journalists work for local and Kathmandu-based newspapers and electronic media. The condition of some of the injured journalists remains critical.


This latest incident follows a similar incident on 3 May, involving police officers severely beating journalists Dipak Rijal, Lila Raj Khanal, Mukunda Subedi and Damodar Dawadi in the Putali Sadak and Bhrikuti Mandap districts of Kathmandu. The journalists were hit with batons by police officers, who ignored their press passes, while covering a street demonstration organized by Nepal’s five opposition parties.


The IFJ, in a letter the Government of Nepal, has condemned the actions of the security forces and have called the police to stop targeting the media using the violence.


The IFJ is extremely concerned over the continued use of violence directed at journalists in Nepal by the police and the general escalating violence in Nepal.


“It is imperative that the relevant authorities recognise the important role and right that journalists have and play in covering these important events,” said Warren.


For further information, please contact Christopher Warren on +61 411 757 668

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries



The IFJ wrote to the Prime Minister of Nepal in the following letter:


13 May 2004



CC. Prime Minister of Nepal

Prime Minister’s Office

Singh Dubar

Kathmandu

Kingdom of Nepal

Fax: 9771226286, 9771227765

Email: info@pmo.gov.np


CC. Honourable Ananat Raj Pandey

Home Secretary

Fax: 9771228166

Email: homehmg@wlink.com.np



CC. Mr. Nain Bahadur Khatri

Chairman, Nepal Human Right Commission

Fax: 9771547973

Email: nhrc@ntc.net.np



CC. Secretary Ministry of Information and Communication

HMG Nepal

Email: moichmg@ntc.net.np & moic@wlink.com.np



Dear Excellency,


The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the world’s largest journalists’ organisation representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, is extremely concerned over recent violence directed at journalists in Nepal, including the arrests and brutal beatings by police towards journalists covering demonstrations.


The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has written today to the Prime Minister of Nepal expressing extreme concern over the arrests and brutal beatings of Nepalese journalists on 7 May.


According to reports from IFJ affiliate in Nepal, the Nepal Press Union, on 7 May armed police from Butawal Police Station attacked students and the general public. The police baton charged and fired tear gas suddenly into the crowd in order to disrupt the protest. Several journalists covering the event were injured and seven journalists were arrested and taken into police custody.


The referendum was organised by students of Butwal Commerce Campus. Thousands of people attended the referendum as a symbolic protest calling for the King to return political power to the elected Parliament.


In a separate incident, later that day, police arrested and brutally beat journalists who were witness to an angry crowd setting fire to a government vehicle in Milan Chowk Square in Butawal after police had disrupted the referendum. The journalists were taking lunch overlooking the square. Once police had chased the crowd from the square, they entered the restaurant and beat the journalists with batons and riffle butts. Twelve journalists were seriously injured and arrested and taken to Butawal Police station.


The journalists were released at 5:30pm on the day of their arrest due to pressure from NGOs, human rights groups, political leaders and members of civil society. The journalists were apologised to and rushed to the local government hospital by Mr. Saha, head of the Butawal Police station.


These two events follow a number of incidents where journalists and media organisations have been targeted with violence and harassment during the month-long protests and political rallies calling for the King to return political power to the elected parliament.


The journalists who were seriously injured include; Dipak Gnawali, Sher Bahadur K.C, Yuvaraj Pandey, Dipendra Kunwar, Dipendra Baduwal, Jitendra G.C and Yanendra G.C . The journalists arrested and who sustained minor injuries were, Bharat K.C, Bishnu Ghimire, Ram Krishna Bhandari, Harisundar Basi and Bindu Kumar Chauhan. All journalists work for local and Kathmandu-based newspapers and electronic media. The condition of some of the injured journalists remains critical.


This latest incident follows a similar incident on 3 May, involving police officers severely beating journalists Dipak Rijal, Lila Raj Khanal, Mukunda Subedi and Damodar Dawadi in the Putali Sadak and Bhrikuti Mandap districts of Kathmandu. The journalists were hit with batons by police officers, who ignored their press passes, while covering a street demonstration organized by Nepal’s five opposition parties.


The IFJ condemns the actions taken by the security forces and call on the police to sop targeting the media using the violence.


The IFJ is extremely concerned over the continued use of violence directed at journalists in Nepal by the police and the general escalating violence in Nepal.


It is imperative that the relevant authorities recognise the important role and right that journalists have and play in covering these important events.



Yours sincerely



Christopher Warren

President, IFJ




Recommended action:


Send appeals


  • Condemning the arrests and brutal beatings of 12 journalists in Nepal


  • Calling for an investigation by the Government of Nepal into the incident.


  • Calling on the Government of Nepal and the security forces to respect the rights of journalists to cover news independently



    Appeals:


    Prime Minister of Nepal

    Prime Minister’s Office

    Singh Dubar

    Kathmandu

    Kingdom of Nepal

    Fax: 9771226286, 9771227765

    email: info@pmo.gov.np


    Please copy appeals to the IFJ Asia Office at ifj-asia@alliance.org.au