-  Thursday 22 October 2020

Militant maoists continue their attacks against the media

 -  RSF

24 Dec 2008 - Reporters Without Borders said today it was deeply concerned about a wave of attacks on the media, condemning the impunity with which Maoist militants operate, two days after the offices of press group Himal Media in Kathmandu were ransacked and copies of its newspapers torched.

"The prime minister, Prachanda, should keep his promise and launch an investigation to ensure the guilty are punished. Threats and assaults against the media are escalating," the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

Militants of the Youth Force (YF), affiliated to the ruling Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), raided and ransacked the offices of the newspaper, Ankush, in the city of Birjgunj, on the country's eastern border on 23 December, and burned 2,500 copies of the newspaper.

Editor of Ankush, Bijaya Bhandari, said the YF members had complained that "the paper referred to their parties' two acronyms without distinguishing between them". It was the second attack on the paper this year after the premises were vandalised on 29 August 2008.

Elsewhere, the local Kantipur Daily carried an article on 22 December in which the president of the dreaded Young Communist League (YCL) in Bhaktapur district, east of the Kathmandu Valley, affiliated to the Maoist Party, warned that its members "now intended to target publications based in Bhaktapur".

Members of the All Nepal Communications, Printing and Publications Workers Union (ANCPPWU), affiliated to the Maoists, also threatened employees of a company that distributes several publications in Nepal, the ACPA. The company chiefly distributes the big-selling dailies, The Himalayan Times and the Annapurna Post. This came after the Post made a complaint about the ANCPPWU before the Supreme Court, calling it a "fraudulent organisation".

By way of riposte, the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) organised a demonstration on 23 December to protest against constant attacks suffered by privately-owned media.

The Media Society and Editors Alliance said in a statement, "We see the different attacks against the media as a serious threat to press freedom, democracy and pluralism in the country. It is ironic that these attacks should be carried out by groups affiliated to a party that won elections and heads the government".

Editors of the leading privately-owned media have launched a protest campaign in their publications with some newspapers, for example, carrying a blank page in place of an editorial.

Reporters Without Borders pointed out that, "Protection of press freedom, guaranteed by the new constitution, is a key element in ensuring the establishment of a democracy worthy of the name in the country."

Source : RSF

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