IFJ Protests Abduction of Nepalese Journalist and Calls on all sides to Respect the work of journalists

The International Federation of Journalists, the worlds largest journalists organisation, has protested to the Prime minister and King of Nepal and has expressed concern to the Maoist rebels over the abduction of Padam Raj Poudel, journalist with the state-owned daily newspaper Gorkhapatra. Communist Party rebels abducted Poudel on 6 June 2003 in Pokhara, Kaski district.

This abduction follows an attempted abduction by (CPN-Maoist) rebels in May 2003 of three journalists, Sarita Aryal, Karuna Thapa and Kurma Raj Shahi, who were taken captive in remote Kalikot district (western Nepal). The three journalists were fortunate enough to escape.

An estimated 7,000 people have lost their lives since 1996 as a direct result of the conflict between the Maoist rebels seeking to remove the monarchy. The IFJ urges CPN-Maoist Chairman Prachanda and Baburam Bhattarai, to release Poudel and stop all attacks against journalists and media workers.

IFJ President Christopher Warren, appalled by the abduction, said: "Attacks on journalists and the media are one of worst forms of attack on press freedom and civil society. The abduction of Padam Raj Poudel is a clear attempt to intimidate and censor the independent media in Nepal. All sides must respect the independence of journalists."

The IFJ has urged the Nepalese Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa, and King Gyanendra to mount a full investigation into the abduction and to ensure the safety of journalists working in Nepal.

IFJ condemns violence against journalists and calls on all sides to respect independent journalism and allow journalists to go about their job in safety.