Thursday, September 11, 2014

Nepal: Political protestors torch newspapers; journalist mistreated


10 September 2014
Freedom Forum

On 1 September 2014, copies of various national dailies such as Kantipur, Nagarik and Annapurna Post, were torched by demonstrators at Pidari Chowk of Dhanusha, a district in southern Nepal.

The agitators set the newspapers on fire during a banda (general shutdown) called by an all-party committee protesting against the Minister for Physical Planning and Works over certain development activities.

The demonstrators accused the newspapers of not covering their activities, according to the news portals of the Kathmandu Post and Republica dailies.

The committee is comprised of 18 political parties, including the ruling Nepali Congress and the CPN UML, UCPN (Maoist) and Madhes-centric ones, which have been demanding the immediate implementation of the Janakpur Development Project.

Freedom Forum condemns the burning of the newspapers which was a violation of freedom of expression and press freedom as it obstructed the free flow of information.

Therefore, Freedom Forum strongly urges the political parties to respect freedom of expression and press freedom which is essential in a democratic state. The parties also need to make their cadres aware of the importance of freedom of expression.

Reporter harassed by police officer

In a separate incident, on 2 September, Mohit Chaudhari, a reporter affiliated with Sandesh daily, was manhandled by a police officer in Bara, a district in southern Nepal.

According to Guru Gautam, a journalist from Bara district, reporter Chaudhari was manhandled by Sub-Inspector of Police Arun Kushbaha, during a programme on the pollution created by the local ghee industry. Chaudhari was reportedly taking photographs during the programme.

Freedom Forum condemns the manhandling of the reporter by SI Kushbaha as it obstructed the free flow of information and therefore was against press freedom.

Freedom Forum was informed that SI Kushbaha was subsequently subjected to departmental action for mistreating the reporter and acting inappropriately. Hopefully an increased awareness of the importance of press freedom was the result of this action.