The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply alarmed at the growing trend of journalists and media being targeted by political actors in Nepal.
In the most recent incident on March 4, cadre belonging to the youth wing of the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist), or CPN(UML), attacked the offices of the daily newspaper Jana Kranti in the far-western town of Mahendranagar.
Extensive damage was caused and documents in the newspaper office were set ablaze, ostensibly in retaliation for a published news item.
According to the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), an IFJ affiliate, a correspondent for Image TV was attacked on the same day by activists of the students’ wing of the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), or UCPN(M) in the town of Butwal in the southern plains. UCPN(M) is the principal constituent of Nepal’s ruling coalition.
The correspondent, Keshav Bhandari, was covering a series of clashes between the student wings of the UCPN(M) and the CPN(UML) when he was roughed up by one of the rival groups.
On March 2, according to the FNJ, copies of the daily newspapers Kantipur and Kathmandu Post, and the magazine Nepal, were torched by activists of the Tharu Welfare Council in Khanar in the eastern plains district of Sunsari. A delivery van carrying the papers was seized.
The council had called a three-day general strike in the plains districts from March 2 to protest a government decision classifying Tharu people within a broader ethnic category for purposes of determining political entitlements.
The protesters were reportedly upset at the failure of the newspapers to provide them with front-page coverage.
The IFJ fully endorses the FNJ’s demand that all political parties in Nepal set a strong norm of respecting media rights by explicitly denouncing these recent incidents.
“The IFJ once again underlines its insistence that the use of force is not a legitimate means of redressing grievances about media content and coverage,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.
“We call upon the ruling authorities and civil society in Nepal to strongly affirm respect for the principle that all disputes on media coverage and content can be resolved through a process of dialogue or constructive mediation.”
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries