DECEMBER 24, 2008  Journalists and media professionals took to the streets for the second consecutive day today to protest police high-handedness yesterday, continued threats on media houses and attack on Himalmedia on Sunday.Journalists, CA members, human rights activists and representatives of the civil society converged into a corner meeting and staged an hour-long sit-in in front of Singhadurbar’s main entrance.

Speaker after speaker criticized the attacks and threats on the media houses and the police’s cruel intervention in which at least six protesting journalists were injured. 

Unlike yesterday, the police exercised restraint and did not beat up the protesters even as the sit-in area was declared a restricted zone. Addressing the mass meeting, FNJ president Dharmendra Jha said, “The attack on Himalmedia was meant to terrorise other media houses.”

He added that the protests would continue until the government creates safe environment for press freedom. Krishna Pahadi, human rights activist said attack on media was an attack on the future of the government. CA member Nabindra Raj Joshi stressed the need to pressure the government to encode press freedom in the law. 

Senior journalist Yubaraj Ghimire said the culprit behind the suppression of media needed to be unmasked. Senior advocate and former president of Nepal Bar Association Shambhu Thapa said the government was trying to fool all by forming the so-called probe commission. Reporters’ Club president Rishi Dhamala announced a fast-unto-death from Sunday in front of the Prime Minister’s residence at Baluwatar for press freedom.

Journalists in Kaski and Sindhupalchowk district chapters organised protest programmes against the barbaric attacks on media. Journalists also protested in Nuwakot, Sarlahi, Mahottari, Udaypur, Rautahat, Bara, Morang and Jhapa districts.

FNJ will submit a memorandum to CA members tomorrow, seeking punishment for those involved in the attack on media and press freedom.

Meanwhile, addressing media persons in Pokhara, Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation Hisila Yami said the Maoists would cease to exist if its cadres were found to be involved in the attack on Himalmedia and the journalists.

Media organizations close ranks

Five media organizations came together on Tuesday to take forward a joint struggle to protect press freedom from recent serious threats from the Maoists.

Nepal Media Society and Editors’ Alliance joined forces with BAN (Broadcasting Association of Nepal), ACORAB (Association of Community Radio Broadcasters Nepal) and KVFBF (Kathmandu Valley FM Broadcasters Forum) to launch the Alliance for Press Freedom.
Mohan Bista of ACORAB said Nepali press has never been under as much pressure as it is now.

“This is a collective pressure group that is unique partnership across the Nepali media spectrum,” said Kailash Sirohiya of the Nepal Media Society.

Bishnu Hari Dhakal of BAN said media in districts had been facing such threats for years. Kunda Dixit of the Editors Alliance said, “Our strength comes from our unity. That is the only way we can deal with violent threats against our freedom.” 

Kantipur faces Maoists’ music

The Maoist-affiliated workers blocked the entry of journalists and employees into Biratnagar based-Kantipur Publications office on Tuesday. 

All Nepal Communications, Press and Printing Workers’ Association Kantipur Publications Pvt Ltd Sub-committee demanding implementation of the government-announced facilities and perks for the workers, staged a six-hour long sit-in at the main gate of the office. 

President of the sub-committee, Ghanashyam Adhikari, said they would delay distribution of the newspapers and halt all official work from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm on Wednesday.

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