The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is disturbed by reports of brutal attacks against journalists during demonstrations in the south of Nepal, following a week of violence that left seven people dead.
According to an IFJ affiliate, the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), rioters from the Madhesi People's Rights Forum (MPRF) physically attacked nine journalists – including Ram Sarraf, Dhruba Sah and Bhuwan Jha – and vandalised media organisations such as FM Birgunj, Narayani FM and the Parsa Chapter of the FNJ.
“It is a sad state of affairs when journalists acting in the spirit of independent neutral observers, chronicling conflict, are violently targeted for simply doing their job,” the IFJ President Christopher Warren said.
Local reports say the MPRF drew up a black list of journalists’ names to target before going on the rampage.
“It’s simply outrageous that bands of thugs are able to hunt down journalists, and pursue coordinated and brutal attacks,” Warren said.
“The government must take action to ensure this sort of violent mob rule will not be tolerated.”
The FNJ reports that Birgunj’s seven daily newspapers have stopped publishing in protest of the attacks and have called for an apology and compensation from the demonstrators.
Meanwhile journalists in Bara are reportedly in lock down, afraid to go outside to cover news and take photographs of demonstrations because they fear becoming a target.
According to the FNJ, four journalists have had to flee the area since January 28 when death threats intensified.
Shiva Puri of the daily Kantipur, Shyam Banjara of Narayani Today, Govinda Devkota of Narayni FMs and Gopal Devkota of Nepal Television were among those who received threats, and Bheem Ghimire of Kantipur and Tank Khanal of the BBC World Service were roughed up and their motorcycles were vandalised.
“The IFJ demands the Nepalese government swiftly condemn this violence and take action to ensure greater protections for journalists, to allow the media to report freely and safely,” Warren said.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries