December 17, 2018

Press Freedom

Nepal

Nepal April 26, 2006

H.M. King Bikram Gyanendra Bir Shah Dev
The Royal Palace
Kathmandu
Kingdom of Nepal
Fax: (011.977.1) 22-73-95
 

Your Majesty:
 

We write to add our voice to protests by twelve respected journalistic organizations — including Article 19, the International Federation of Journalists, the International Press Institute, Reporters Without Borders, the World Association of Newspapers, the World Press Freedom Committee, and the Committee to Protect Journalists — in denouncing your government’s assault on the media as part of your continuing effort to repress civil rights and resist the restoration of democracy in Nepal.
 

Since the nationwide pro-democracy demonstrations began on April 4, more than 200 journalists have been detained, and at least 20 are reported still in custody. We are particularly concerned about the safety of Kanak Mani Dixit, a veteran reporter for the Nepal Times. He wrote and smuggled a column out of jail reporting on the intolerable conditions and abuse of prisoners who had not even participated in the protests, but had been rounded up nevertheless. We also condemn your government’s action in extending the detention of Shyam Shrestha, editor of Mulyankan Weekly, by three months under the Security Act.
 

In addition to the journalists arrested while demonstrating or attempting to cover the protests, others have been brutally attacked. Some injuries appear to be incidental, inflicted by rubber bullets, tear gas, or batons being used by police to disperse the demonstrators. But other journalists seem to have been deliberately targeted. These include five who were fired on by security forces while covering a protest in Jhapa on April 19, thirteen more injured the same day in Panchthar, and fifteen injured in another pro-democracy demonstration on April 15. According to the secretary-general of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists, Mahendra Bista, at the April 15 protest, “The police action seemed to have been prepared. Most of the victims sustained head injuries. It was an act of barbarism.”
 

During the protests, several radio stations have been censored, and your information ministry has been demanding that cable TV operators cease to carry the programming of Kantipur TV (KTV) and other TV news stations. And your repressive new media law, announced on April 16, has been denounced by lawyers and journalists as a violation of constitutional guarantees of free expression. The International Federation of Journalists warns that new amendments to Nepal ‘s terrorism law “have the potential to criminalize the basic act of the media, of supplying information.”
 

Your Majesty, the turmoil in your country is saddening, but it also reflects the determination of your people to be free. We applaud your latest concession, restoring Parliament, and we hope you will consider a referendum to re-draw the Constitution. But whatever the outcome, the Overseas Press Club of America, an independent organization that has defended press freedom around the world for more than 65 years, insists on the right of journalists to report the news of the demonstrations freely and without hindrance. We call on you to repeal the new media law, to release those journalists still in detention, to end all efforts at censorship, and to instruct your security forces to ensure the safety of all those covering the protests.

 
We thank you for your attention and look forward to your prompt reply.
 

Respectfully yours,
Larry Martz
Norman A. Schorr
Co-chairmen, Freedom of the Press Committee

 

 

 

cc:

                  

Kedar Bhakta Shrestha

Ambassador of Nepal to the U.S.A.

Embassy of the Kingdom of Nepal

2131 Leroy Place, NW

Washington , DC 20008

Fax: (202) 667-5534

 

The Permanent Representative

Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Nepal

  to the United Nations

820 Second Avenue , Suite 17-B

New York , NY 10017

Fax: (212) 953-2038

 

Michael E. Malinowski

U.S. Ambassador to Nepal

Embassy of the United States of America

Panipokhari

Kathmandu

Nepal

Fax: (011.977.1) 441-9963

 

The News Editor

The Katmandu Post

Fax: (011.977.1) 425-6761

 

News Editor

The Independent

Fax: (011.977.1) 22-54-07

independ@mos.com.np