13 Journalists Arrested in Nepal as Police Use Force

Kathmandu and Lalitpur administrations are in direct contradiction of their human rights obligations says the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), after they banned all public demonstrations and rallies, and police used force to arrest protestors including 13 journalists.

"The banning of all public demonstrations is in direct contradiction with Nepal's human rights obligations, which give Nepalese people the right to peaceful assembly, " said IFJ president Christopher Warren.

At approximately 7:35am on Wednesday April 5, 13 journalists were among 37 professionals arrested in front of the international convention centre during a peaceful protest rally organised by the Professional Alliance for Peace and Democracy (PAPAD).

The peaceful rally organised in protest of the Kathmandu and Lalitpur district administrations indefinitely banning public protests was scheduled to begin at 7:30am from Baneshwor where it would proceed to Mandala of Maitighar. Five minutes after the rally began, police intervened by using force to remove protestors.

Among the journalists arrested were: Bishnu Nisthuri, president, Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ); Mahendra Bista, general secretary, FNJ; Binod Pahadi, Central Committee member, FNJ; Balram Baniya, secretary, FNJ; senior journalist, Harihar Birahi; senior journalist Gopal Thapaliya; Krishna Humagain; Yuvraj Acharya; Bharat Pokherel; Navaraj Sharma; Rishi Dhamala; Kosh Raj Koirala; and Sudarshan Acharya.

Amongst the others arrested were 13 lawyers, 5 professors, 3 doctors, 2 film artists and a civil society activist.

A number of protesters sustained minor injuries as police dragged them away. Gopal Thapaliya, president of the South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) Nepal was taken to Kathmandu Model Hospital, Bagbazaar for treatment of injuries to his right elbow sustained while being arrested.

"The use of force by police to break up a peaceful protest is excessive and beyond the call of duty," said Warren.

In protest at the police's actions and the Kathmandu administration’s ban on public protest a rally has been organised for 3pm Wednesday April 5 at New Road, Kathmandu.

In a separate incident, the government has arrested hundreds of students from various colleges in Kathmandu including several student leaders who remain in detention.

This incident follows the arrest of Suresh Prasad Yadhav, district correspondent of Purba Weekly, arrested along with 36 others, on April 4 at 2pm while reporting on a rally at Koteshwor, Kathmandu. The rally was organised by Terai community to express their solidarity for the democratic movement. Yadhav was detained at Maharajgunj No. 2 police barracks.

"We are calling for the immediate release of all those currently detained and for the Nepalese police to refrain from using force to arrest journalists fulfilling their right to peacefully protest," said Warren.

See www.ifj-asia.org/page/nepal.html for more information on the situation in Nepal.

For more information please contact IFJ Asia Pacific +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 110 countries