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Press Freedom Violation Goes Unabated

Freedom Forum has been continuously monitoring the press freedom violation across the country.

Dozens of journalists have been attacked, manhandled, verbally abused and threatened while their vehicles vandalized during the banda (general shutdown) called by the Indigenous Nationalities' Joint Struggle Committee led by Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN). The first day of the banda (May 20, 2012) remained as a 'black day' in Nepali media.

Dinesh Gautam, reporter with the Citizen's FM, Radheshyam Dahal, Punya Dhamala, and Satish Subedi affiliated with the Sagarmatha Television, Shakti Karki and Prakash Kattel of the Roadmap weekly, Upendra Tamang of the Muktipatra weekly were attacked by the banda enforcers at various parts in the capital city while reporting on the first day of the banda, 20 May.

Similarly, reporters with the Gorkhapatra daily-Rajesh Chamling Rai and Shambhu Prasain were manhandled during reporting at Chabahil, Kathmandu.

On the same day, the protestors attacked Bijaya Chamling, reporter with the Rajdhani daily, YP Ghimire of the Himalayan TV, Dipendra Karki of the Karobar daily, Prakash Guragain of the Nayapatrika daily, Rohit Bhandari of Mountain TV, Shambhu Dangal of Capital FM, Govinda Pariyar of the Nagarik daily, Shiva Pangeni of Nepal TV, Ram Subhav Mahato and Keshav Niraula of News 24 TV were attacked at various parts of the capital city were attacked by the banda enforcers and supporters.

More importantly, General Secretary of the NEFIN, Ang Kaji Sherpa, publicly threatened of physical action on  the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) dubbing it a an association of 'brahmin caste'.

Speaking at a programme organized by the reporters' club in the capital on May 20, Mr Sherpa issued death threat to journalist Rishi Dhamala as well.

Following this public threat to the media persons, they have been agitated in the country. Ang Kaji Sherpa's remarks have stoked indigenous people to be more hostile to the journalists.

Reasoning that the Mountain Television telecast programs live about the attacks on media, flurry of threats have come to it from various telephone numbers.

Similarly, till now today (21 May), Prakash Adhikari reporter with the Sagarmatha Television from Chitwan, southern plain in the central region was manhandled and his vehicle vandalized while another vehicle belonging to the Gorkhapatra daily vandalized at Narayangadh in the same region. Similarly, in the same region, Avenues Television reporter Prakash Gyawali was threatened of life while he on news coverage about the banda.

Also a press vehicle belonging to the Kantipur Publications was vandalized by the banda enforcers at Satdobato, Lalitpur this morning.

A motorcycle belonging to Bharat Pradhan, reporter with the Lumbini Television was vandalized at Butwal, western city in the southern plain of Nepal today.

In Kaski, a hilly district in the western region of Nepal, Rajan Upadhyay affiliated to the Barahi FM was manhandled by the banda enforcers. Even a motorcycle belonging to the Pokhara Hotline daily was vandalized while distributing newspapers.

Moreover, a motorcycle belonging to Executive Director of Radio Lumbini was vandalized at Bhairahawa, eastern city in the southern plain in Nepal. Similarly, Mechi Kali daily's Amrit Giri had his motorcycle vandalized by the banda enforcers in the same region.

A camera belonging to a journalist with the Mountain Television was seized in the capital city.

A vehicle (Ba 7 Cha 4151) belonging to the News 24 Television was vandalized at Satdobato, Lalitpur in the morning on May 21.

To sheer mockery of rule of law and press freedom, the banda enforcers and supporters have continued attacks on media persons.

In name of demanding rights with the government, the indigenous people have not only paralyzed normal life across the country but posed a serious threat to entire media sector.

Journalists are attacked in course of reporting. Their vehicles are damaged without considering the rights of journalists. Free movement of journalists for news coverage is banned.

The chaotic situation has not only violation press freedom and freedom of expression but jeopardized the lives of journalists. It indicates more bleak days ahead to media in Nepal.

Not only media persons and rights defenders but also the political parties, civil society and others from different quarters of lives have been shocked to see such gross violation of press freedom in Nepal.

The banda supporters have completely forgotten the role of media thereby behaving journalists as their enemies.

Freedom Forum strongly condemns the violations of press freedom and urges the government strongly to provide security to journalists and respects people's right to information.