The International Federation of Journalists (FNJ) is alarmed at continuing attacks on journalists and media houses by factional groups and security personnel in Nepal after two serious attacks were reported this week.
According to the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), an IFJ affiliate, Gorkhapatra district correspondent and president of the FNJ Bajhang chapter Deepak Oli was allegedly attacked and threatened by police on March 28 in Chainpur in the far-western Bajhang region. Oli sustained injuries to his head and back.
Oli reported that a police inspector beat him as he attempted to cover a confrontation between cadres of the Nepali Congress (NC) and the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML) regarding election campaigns for the Constituent Assembly. The police inspector allegedly accused the journalist, saying “you journalists write whatever you want thinking that your news has the power to do anything”.
In another attack, a radio station in Janali Bandali, in the far western Accham region, was besieged on March 30 after Communist Party Nepal-Maoist leader Jhankar Bahadur Rawal threatened to seize the radio station for broadcasting reports he alleged were against his group.
Maoist cadres allegedly responded by surrounding Radio Ramaroshan, the only FM station in the district, and threatening to storm the premises.
The FNJ reports that the attackers fled after police arrived.
“Journalists in Nepal have a very important role and responsibility in the coming weeks to provide fair and accurate reporting of all election campaigns in the lead-up to the Constituent Assembly elections on April 10,” said IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park.
“This responsibility must not be hindered by any member of the community, regardless of their political beliefs, and particularly not by local authorities who should be providing a safe and protected environment for the media.”
The IFJ joins the FNJ in condemning the attacks on the media and demanding that members of the security forces and politically aligned groups show a higher level of respect for the right to freedom of expression. They stress that the professional duties of journalists during national elections are crucial to Nepal’s transition to democracy.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries