Journalists and Media Targeted by Agitators in Nepal’s Political Turmoil


The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls on all Nepal’s political parties to publicly disavow and condemn the wave of violence directed against journalists and media over the last five days, coinciding with a nation-wide agitation launched by a newly formed political alliance seeking to push their case for a federal political order.


On behalf of all international partners and the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN), the IFJ has earlier expressed its strong sense of outrage at the targeted attacks on journalists on the first day of the campaign launched by the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN). Despite worldwide expressions of concern, this pattern persisted all through the three-day long agitation and well afterwards.


On Monday May 21, the second day of the NEFIN campaign, the FNJ’s media rights monitoring network registered targeted attacks against Prakash Adhikar, correspondent in Chitwan district for Sagarmatha Television, and Radheyshyam Khatiwada in the same district. In the Lalitput borough of Kathmandu city, Rameshwar Sapkota, Dharmendra Sapkota, Pratikshya Sharma and Mukti Shreshta – all of Mountain Television – and Ashok Tuladhar of AbhiyanDaily, were assaulted. Tuladhar sustained serious head injuries. Also attacked in the same area were Nabaraj Shreshta and Nirmal Wali, both of whom work for News 24 Television. In another part of Kathmandu, the motorcycle belonging to reporter Pawan Barsha Shah of KarobarDaily was vandalised.


On May 22, the third day of the agitation, Dhruba Basnet of Star FM was also manhandled by protestors at Bhaktapur, the eastern suburb of Kathmandu city. In the Koteswor area of the city, a vehicle belonging to Mountain television was attacked and badly damaged and some of the staff travelling in it reported that their personal belongings were stolen.


A clear intent to intimidate journalists was evident in the press release issued by the sponsors of the agitation in Nuwakot district, in the central region of Nepal, which charges a senior FNJ functionary, Dhruba Rawal, with biased and negative reporting, explicitly holding him responsible for any harm he may come to.


Certain attacks have been clearly attributed to particular political factions. For instance, the May 21 attack on Deepa Ale of Sagarmatha Television in Nepalganj, in the western terai region, was carried out by the Tharuwan Joint Struggle Committee, which is campaigning for a separate state in the region. Ale suffered serious injuries around her eyes and her motorcycle was badly damaged.


There have also been efforts to stop the distribution of newspapers, as in Narayangud of Chitwan district on May 21, when a van carrying the GorkhapatraDaily was stopped and vandalised. That intent was also apparent on May 24, when activists of the Broader Madhesi Front burnt copies of Kantipur and Annapurna Post – Nepali and English language newspapers published by one of Nepal’s largest media groups – in Biratnagar district in the eastern terai region.


“We are appalled at what is clearly a planned and persistent pattern of violence against journalists and media, as the process of writing a new constitution for Nepal’s republican order enters a decisive phase and seems likely to end in deadlock”, said the IFJ Asia-Pacific.


“The IFJ calls on all of Nepal’s political parties and civil society actors to recognise the need for a broad public debate on the issues that have contributed to this prolonged deadlock in the constitution writing process.


“To impede the media, and to block and attack journalists in the performance of their duties, only deepens mutual hostilities since it effectively closes off an important channel for the public to air their opinions and aspirations”.


The IFJ took part in the International Fact Finding and Advocacy Mission to Nepal (also known as the International Media Mission), which visited Nepal from 23 to 27 February 2012 to assess the media freedom situation in the country.


For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0950


The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries


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