IFJ Letter to Kofi Annan about repression in Nepal

See also : complete list of incidents of journalists being arrested and attacked from April 5-13, 2006 (PDF)

April 13, 2006

The Honourable Kofi Annan
United Nations
New York, NY 10017 - USA

Dear Sir,

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) the global organisation representing 500,000 journalists worldwide is imploring your support for the Nepalese struggle for democracy.

The IFJ is deeply concerned over the targeting of journalists and outright violence towards the Nepalese people and is calling on the United Nations to apply pressure on the king to immediately discontinue the crackdown and begin to restore democracy in Nepal.

Of particular concern to the IFJ is the targeted violence against both reporting and participating in the mass peaceful protest demonstrations organised by the Seven Party Alliance from which began on April 10 and continue indefinitely.

Since the curfew was announced on April 5, over 100 journalists have been arrested, over 24 have been assaulted and there are reports of eight people being killed.

In an attempt to control the mass protests across Nepal, armed police and the Royal Nepal Army (RNA) have used excessive force, teargas and batons and fired randomly at protestors in an attempt to control the crowd.

The police and RNA have systematically targeted journalists and mediapersons attempting to cover the mass protests resulting in mass arrests of media persons and multiple incidents of journalists being brutally attacked by authorities while attempting to cover the demonstrations.

The IFJ has received reports of the Royal Nepal Army (RNA) indiscriminately firing on crowds of protestors in an attempt to break up the crowd. Most disturbing are reports that those injured are being taken away by police and disappearing.

The IFJ has received reports that assistant sub Inspector Sailesh Giri and police personnel, Ram Hari Karki infiltrated a protest in Kathmandu organized by IFJ’s Nepalese affiliate, the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) in plain clothes, pretending to be journalists and deliberately began to provoke both protestors, and security personnel.

In another incident plain clothed RNA members infiltrated a peaceful demonstration in Kohalpur Bazaar of Banke on Monday April 10, with concealed explosives. Fortunately they were recognized and stopped by UN staff who demanded to be shown the grenades.

The IFJ is particularly concerned over the 14 journalists and media workers detained during the recent pro-democracy movement who still remain in custody. Many of them were arrested without any legal notice and were physically assaulted by police prior to their arrest.

The blatant disregard that the Nepalese authorities are showing for the work of the media is abhorrent and demands condemnation from the international community.

We are sickened at the beatings and assaults on our colleagues by the RNA and police and would welcome the UN’s criticism of the King’s actions.

The IFJ is calling on the United Nations to apply pressure on the King of Nepal to re-instate democracy and human rights. We urge you to ensure the free passage and safety of all journalists and their access to communication lines and information.

A complete list of incidents of journalists being arrested and attacked from April 5-13, 2006 is attached as Appendix A.

Yours sincerely

Christopher Warren
President, IFJ

CC. H.E. Mr. Murari Raj Sharma
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative
United Nations

© Rajesh Dhungana
A journalist showing his media pass. (c) Rajesh Dhungana