Journalists Brutally Targeted at Mass Rallies Across Nepal

©The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is calling for the Nepalese Government to stop targeting journalists and respect the media’s right to cover the news, free from intimidation and violence, following the arrests of up to 100 journalists and the brutal attack of 24 journalists across Nepal during the past five days.

“The IFJ is seriously concerned at the significant escalation in violent attacks on journalists and the media in Nepal over the past few days,” said IFJ president Christopher Warren.

“The blatant disregard that the Nepalese authorities are showing for the work of the media is abhorrent,” said Warren.

The mass arrests occurred when Nepal's Seven Party Alliance (SPA) called a four-day general strike and launched a mass democratic movement on Thursday April 6, resulting in the authorities introducing a dawn-till-dusk curfew in an attempt to thwart the pro-democracy rallies.

In an attempt to control the mass protests across Nepal, police and the Royal Nepal Army (RNA) have used 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.

“We are sickened at the beatings and assaults on our colleagues by the RNA and police,” said Warren.

“I implore the Nepalese authorities to recognise the role the important media plays in reporting on protests,” said Warren.

“The imposition of the curfew means it is more important than ever that journalists be given the right to free movement to enable them to report fully on these momentous days for Nepal,” said Warren.

“It is unacceptable to treat independent media and journalists as the enemy and not as independent observers,” said Warren.

The IFJ calls for the immediate release of the 10 journalists that remain in custody, many of whom were arrested without any legal notice and calls for the Nepalese Government to instruct the authorities to immediately respect journalists right to move about freely without fear of arrest or physical assault.

A complete list of incidents of journalists being arrested and attacked from April 5-10, 2006 is attached as Appendix A.

See for more information on the situation in Nepal.

For more information please contact IFJ Asia Pacific +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 110 countries

Appendix A

Journalists arrested and beaten – April 5-10, 2006

April 5, 2006

13 journalists arrested in Kathmandu – 7:35am
At approximately 7:35am on Wednesday April 5, 13 journalists were among 37 professionals arrested in front of the international convention centre during a peaceful protest rally organised by the Professional Alliance for Peace and Democracy (PAPAD).

The peaceful rally organised in protest of the Kathmandu and Lalitpur district administrations indefinitely banning public protests was scheduled to begin at 7:30am from Baneshwor where it would proceed to Mandala of Maitighar. Five minutes after the rally began, police intervened by using force to remove protestors.

Among the journalists arrested were: Bishnu Nisthuri, president, Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ); Mahendra Bista, general secretary, FNJ; Binod Pahadi, Central Committee member, FNJ; Balram Baniya, secretary, FNJ; senior journalist, Harihar Birahi; senior journalist Gopal Thapaliya; Krishna Humagain; Yuvraj Acharya; Bharat Pokherel; Navaraj Sharma; Rishi Dhamala; Kosh Raj Koirala; and Sudarshan Acharya.

Amongst the others arrested were 13 lawyers, 5 professors, 3 doctors, 2 film artists and a civil society activist.

Several protesters sustained minor injuries as police dragged them away. Gopal Thapaliya, president of the South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA) Nepal was taken to Kathmandu Model Hospital at Bagbazaar for treatment of injuries to his right elbow sustained while being arrested.

24 journalists arrested in Kathmandu – 3:30pm
Approximately 24 journalists were arrested at around 3:30pm while participating in a peaceful protest organised by the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ). Among those arrested were: Shiva Gaunle, vice-president, FNJ; Hemanta Kafle, FNJ treasurer; Purna Basnet, FNJ Central Committee member; senior journalist Kanak Dixit; Gyan Ram Shrestha; Laxman Karki; Bal Kumar Nepal; Navin Paudyal; Baburam Dhakal; Rojan Rai; Ujir Magar; Kiran Pokhrel; Indra Baniya; Damodar Dawadi; Govinda Chaulagain; Prakash Silwal; Lila Raj Khanal; Rajendra Aryal; Bimal Gautam; Dharmendra Jha; Uddhav Acharya; Nirmala Sharma; Shankar Layal Malla; and Dev Raj Rimal. All were detained in Janasewa Police Office, Newroad.

To break up the protest police used excessive force and manhandled the journalists before arresting them.

The demonstrators were protesting the arrest of 37 professionals, including 13 journalists, at a protest rally organised by the Professional Alliance for Peace and Democracy (PAPAD) earlier that day.

The journalists and other professionals that were arrested in the morning and originally detained at Ward Police Office, Tinkune, were transferred to the Police Club at Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu, at 2:30pm. All the detained journalists and professionals were released at 5:30 pm.

Journalist arrested from his house
Journalist Laxmi Prasain, chief editor Kutumba Weekly was arrested from his house on April 5.

April 6, 2006

Four journalists arrested in Kathmandu
FNJ central representatives: Sudarshan Acharya; Bhaktadhowj Bhohara; Shyam Badan KC, editor Roadmap Weekly; and Kamal Koirala, chief editor, Roadmap Weekly were arrested from Kathmandu on April 6. Acharya and Bohara were detained at the women’s training academy, Jawalakhel.

Media vehicle vandalized in Kathmandu
In a separate incident, an unidentified group vandalised a vehicle of the Himalayan Times at Bhaktapur on April 6 while the vehicle was en route to Surya Vinayak to drop home members of the editorial department.

The attackers hurled stones at the vehicle shattering its windows. Another group at Tinkune Kathmandu later attacked the vehicle.

The driver and passengers managed to escape unharmed from both attacks.

April 7, 2006

Five journalists arrested at Hetuada at 7:45am
Five journalists including: Khem Bolakhe, secretary, Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), Makwanpur branch; Gokarna Adhikari, treasurer; Girija Adhikari; Pratik Dainik; Sunhil Khadka, Nikash Weekly; and Hari Humagain, Hetauda Shandesh were arrested at 7:45am from Hetuada. The journalists were arrested at a peaceful protest rally organised by the Professional Alliance for Peace and Democracy (PAPAD) against the mass arrests from protests the day earlier.

Police baton charged participants of the rally.

One journalist arrested at Srijana, Pokhara at 10am
Tribhuwan Paudel, executive member, Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), Kaski chapter and reporter of Pokhara-based Annapurna FM, Pokhara Hotline and Himan Khabar online was arrested from Srijana Chowk, Pokhara while reporting the news of the protests by the SPA.

Paudel was arrested and taken to the police barracks at Pokhara. He has since been released.

April 8, 2006

Seven journalists receive serious injuries at Baglung
At least seven journalists were injured at the hands of police on Saturday April 8, while covering a peaceful protest organised by the SPA in the district headquarter of Baglung.

Hari Narayan Gautam, secretary, Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) Dhaulagiri Branch received a serious injury to his head.

Police beating left five other journalists including Himal Bahadur GC and Ram Krishna Sharma injured.

Also injured by police while covering the protests in Kathmandu were: Suresh Regmi, journalist with Chitwan based Synergy FM; Tej Prakash Pandid, chief editor, Nayayug Bani; and Santosh Sharma, journalist, Kantipur; Shyam Shrestha, cameraman; and Tilak Koirala, Nepal One Television were manhandled by police while covering the protests in Bagbazar, Kathmandu.

Journalist arrested in Kathmandu
Kanak Mani Dixit, senior journalist and editor, Himal South Asia magazine, and Kedar Sharma from Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists (NEFEJ) were arrested on April 8 for defying curfew orders imposed by the government.

Dixit was arrested in front of the TU Teaching Hospital at Maharajgunj along with 24 rights activists and professionals.

They continue to be in detention.

Independent media including Kantipur excluded from curfew passes
The government has refused to issue curfew passes to some independent media houses including; Kathmandu Post and its sister publication Kantipur, after the ministry of information and communication excluded Kantipur Publications name from the list of the media houses to receive passes for vehicles to ferry staff and drop off newspapers.

April 9, 2006

Six journalists’ injured in Butawal - 8am
At 8am on April 9, six journalists were brutally beaten by security forces while participating in a pro-democratic rally defying the dawn to dusk curfew order imposed by the local government.

R. Ghimire, president FNJ Rupandehi district; Karna Bahadur Karki, editor, Lumbini daily; and Kamala Kuwar were forcefully pushed into a police van and taken into police custody. They were released the next day.

Dipendra Kunwar; Yanendra G.C; and Dinesh Pandey were hospitalised after policed baton charged them at the rally.

Journalist beaten up in Panga, Bhaktapur – 11am
Bhadra Sharma, correspondent, Budhabar Weekly was severely beaten by security forces while on his way to his offices at Panga, Bhaktapur.

Five journalists arrested in Doti – 12:30pm
Five journalists participating in a pro-democracy rally in the far west town of Doti, Silgadhi were arrested at around 12:30pm on April 9.

The arrested journalists include: Ram Bahadur Ayr, editor, Bimb Weekly; Yogendra Balayer, correspondent, Rajdhani Daily; Dil Bahadur Chhatyal; Min Bahadur Bum; and Ran Bahadur Bohora.

They were released after an hour.

18 journalists arrested in Butawal –1pm
Eighteen journalists were arrested at a pro-democracy protest rally in Butawal where 20,000 protestors moved through the main road of Butawal defying the curfew order imposed by the local administration.

After police failed to control the crowd the Royal Nepal Army (RNA) began firing randomly into the crowd resulting in dozens of injured protestors and the crowd running into laneways where they were chased by police and arrested.

The journalists arrested were: Sher Bahadur KC; Dinesh Pandey; Dipak Gyawali, secretary FNJ Rupendehi; Dipendra Kuwar; Dipendra Baduwal; Top Raj Sharma; Amrit Giri; Prakash Shrestha; Arjun Shrestha; Bharat KC; Yuvaraj Pandey; Hari Sundar Basi; Shyam Lal Pokhrel; Siddhi Charan Bhattarai; Laxman Paudel; Manoranjan Sharma; Ramesh Pokhrel; and Pradeep Acharya.

Several of the journalists were badly beaten by police after they were arrested.

The arrested journalists were held at Butawal police station and released the next day.

Newspaper office attacked at 1:30pm
Army personnel attacked the office of Chitwan based Paradarshi daily at around 1.30pm on April 9.

Army personnel hurled stones at the office of the daily on accusation of dissemination of news related to movement and exaggeration of police action.

Three journalists arrested in Dhankuta – 3:30pm
Three journalists were arrested at 3:30pm on April 9 while participating in a peaceful rally organised by the Appellate Court Bar Association against the arrest of journalists and professionals across the country.

Amongst the journalists arrested were; Sanjay Santoshi, vice president, FNJ; Bijay Shantoshi Rau, president FNJ Dhankuta Chapter; J.B Ghale Magar, vice president FNJ Dhankuta.

Magar was severely beaten by security personal resulting in severe injuries to his head.

All three journalists were held at the District Police Office in Dhankuta, and released the same day.

Journalist arrested in Dailekh
Sita Ram Jaisi, FNJ executive member of FNJ Dailekh was arrested in the far western district of Dailekh while reporting the protests staged by the seven party Alliance.

Journalists arrested in Baglung
Hari Narayan Gautam, secretary, FNJ of Shaulagiri Branch was arrested on April 9 from Baglung, headquarter of Dhalagiri zone while reporting on the news of the democratic movement organised by the seven party alliance. He continues to be under detention.

Journalist arrested and beaten up in Sukedhara, Kathmandu
Security forces arrested and beat up Bed Prakash Dhakal, sub-editor of the Annapurna Post, from the Cyprus School compound at Sukedhara, Kathmandu.

Dhakal was waiting for his office car to pick him up when security forces was beaten up despite showing his media identity car, when teachers from the school attempted to intervene, they were also beaten up by the security forces.

Journalist arrested in Kathmandu
Thirlal Bhushal, reporter, Kathmandu Post was arrested from his residence during the afternoon on April 9. He was released the same day.

Media vehicle targeted in Kathmandu
A Himalayan Times vehicle was vandalised by the second time in two days by protestors.

Journalist injured in Handigaon, Kathmandu
Sabin Chandra Acharya, sub-editor, Annapurna Post was hit in the cheek by a stone thrown by unidentified people in the afternoon in Handigaon, Kathmandu.

Journalist beaten in Dhangadi
Tek Raj Joshi, reporter for Dhangadi based Ghodaghodi FM, Tika Upreti and Prayag Joshi of Sudur Sandesh, were severely beaten in Dhangadi by security forces while they were reporting news on the democratic movement staged by the Seven Party Alliance (SPA).

Journalist beaten in Chitwan
Binod Poudel, correspondent, Annapurna Daily was beaten by police and severely injured by police while reporting on the SPA democratic movement.

Poudel was taken home after his injuries were treated in hospital.

April 10,2006

Two journalists arrested in Dhangadi
Jagat Saud, correspondent, Farwest and Prayag Joshi, correspondent, Sudur Sandesh were arrested in the morning of April 10 while reporting news of the democratic movement organised by the seven party alliance in Dhangadi, far western town and district headquarter of Kalali.

According to FNJ, Joshi was severly beaten by police despite showing his media identity card. Prayag Joshi was released on the same day while Saud is still under custody.

Four journalists beaten in Boudha – 5pm
Police personnel brutally beat four journalists including: Balram Baniya, secretary, FNJ; eKantipur editor, Akhilesh Tripathi; assistant senior sub-editor Gopal Khanal; and reporter Ekindra Kunwar. at Boudha on Monday April 10 at 5pm.

The journalists were deliberately singled out and targeted by police when they arrived at the SPA demonstration as police realised they were from Kantipur Publications.

More than a dozen police surrounded the four journalists, using their batons to systematically beat them as they showed their press cards.

When asked for help, a Sub-Inspector of Police, who was apparently leading the policemen, was heard saying, “Hit them… but not on the heads.”

The police broke nearly half a dozen batons while hitting the journalists on their arms, backs and legs. Police also hurled stone at a photojournalist, Saligram Tiwari.

The attackers were deployed under the command of Police Officer Keshev Bahadur Shahi.

The journalists were later treated for massive swollen backs, limbs and legs at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital at Maharajgunj.

Journalist beaten in Parbat
Om Prakash Upadhyaya, Himalayan Times correspondent for Parbat district was brutally beaten by security personnel while covering the protests despite showing his media identity card. Upadhyaya is now being treated at Parbat District Hospital.

Journalist beaten in Dadelhura
Police severely beat up D R Pant, vice president, FNJ and Kantipur reporter while he was covering a protest demonstration at Tufandanda in Dadeldhura bazaar.

Police took him under control, systematically beat him and snatched away his camera. Panta who was seriously injured in the police beating and was treated for severe bruises.

Journalists still in custody
Journalists Sudarshan Acharya, Bhakta Dhoj Bohara, Shyam Badan KC, Kamal Koirala, Laxmi Prasain, Suresh Kumar Yadhav, Kanak Mani Dixit, Kedar Sharma, Hari Narayan Gautam, Sita Ram Jaisi and Jagat Saud are still under custody.

<font size="4">The International Federation of Journalists is a member of the 'International Freedom of Expression and Press Freedom Mission to Nepal', which includes 15 international organisations specialised in global press freedom issues'