DECEMBER 23, 2008   The Media Society and Editors' Alliance in a joint statement has strongly condemned the attack by Maoist workers on Himalmedia, and launched a protest programme beginning with blank editorials in all member newspapers, television and radio news programmes on December 23, Tuesday. The protest editorials have appeared on Annapurna Post, The Himalayan Times, The Kathmandu Post, Kantipur, Nepal Samacharpatra, Rajdhani, Himalaya Times, Image Channel TV, Image News FM, Nepal, Kantipur TV, Kantipur FM, myrepublica.com, dainikee.com, eKantipur, Newsfront, Nepali Times and Himal Khabarpatrika.

"This is the first in a series of escalating protests that our media companies will launch if the current organised attacks on us by groups affiliated to the ruling party are not stopped immediately," the statement said.

"We feel the attack on Himalmedia and other media houses represent a serious threat to press freedom, democracy and pluralism in this country, and it is ironical that it should be perpetrated by a group affiliated to a party that won the election and leads the government," it added.

The Media Society and Editors' Alliance group the publishers and owners of most of Nepal's major national newspapers and magazines, TV stations and radio and a meeting on Monday took serious note of the escalation of violent attacks on media.

The raid on Himalmedia on Sunday, in which 12 people were injured, was the latest in a series of attacks and threats against newspapers, TV stations and radio all over the country in the past.

"We feel enough is enough," they said in the statement. Besides blank editorials, TV stations will also carry a message after the signature tune instead of the headlines on their news broadcasts, and similar announcements on radio news bulletins and news portals.

Publishers and editors demanded the immediate arrest of two identified members of the attacking force on Himalmedia on Sunday, and said the government's handling of this case would be an indication of whether or not it is serious in addressing the pattern of "criminal" attacks on media.

They said the incidents of violent intimidation were politically motivated, and demanded a full public apology from the CPN-Maoist, a credible commitment not to repeat such attacks on the fourth estate and to abide by the rule of law. In turn, the publishers also said they will continue to abide by all the laws of the land.

The statement was signed by Kailash Sirohiya, chairman of the Nepal Media Society, and Kunda Dixit, convenor of the Editors' Alliance.

(Source: Kantipur Report, December 23)

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