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Journalists under Fire in Southern Nepal

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At least 72 journalists were attacked in the last six months and death threats in southern Nepal have become common place, says the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF)


Media rights watch groups around the world have said it time and again that Nepal’s press is under increasing threat, even after the repressive laws were annulled following November 2006 peace deal between the Maoist rebels and the Seven Party Alliance. In fact there are more rebel groups today than during the Maoist conflict. The home ministry recently said recently that at least nine armed groups are active and do not hesitate to resort to violence.

These new rebel groups are threatening the peace process as well as the work of journalists.

And here is yet another report by the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) which confirms the deteriorating situation security situation, particularly in the southern part of the country.

RSF says (http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=22448) at least 72 journalists have been attacked or threatened by armed groups since start of the year 2007.

The organization said it was concerned about the safety of journalists in southern Nepal where armed groups are becoming increasingly active. Journalists in the region have been attacked or threatened since 1 January by groups that use violence against the media and the civilian population in general.

RSF has also released a list of major incidents identifying 1) the names of the enemies of the press (groups responsible) as well as 2) the nature of attacks, 3) names of media groups or workers targeted, 4) reason behind the attack, 5) where the attack took place, and 6) when the attack took place.

Looking at this list (see at the end of this article), one can say that most of the attacks against the press are carried out by various factions of Madhesi armed groups and Maoist splinter groups. The attacks have taken place mostly in the Terai region and the motives of attack vary. There are cases in which the armed groups attack the press to display their anger against coverage of their abuses and atrocities. Sometimes, journalists earn the militants’ wrath just for covering their events, such as protests, demonstrations, rallies and other programs. At other times, armed groups attack the journalists on the pretext that their activities did not receive enough coverage.

RSF sites one recent case in which members of the Jantantrik Terai Mukti Morchha (JTMM) threatened Narayani FM and Radio Birgunj employees on 1 June for failing to broadcast any reports about the strike call they had issued. JTMM members kidnapped Auzzar National Daily journalists Rajendra Rai and Dewaan Rai for several hours on 12 January.

Death threats have become commonplace in the southern provinces, says RSF. The Madhesi Jana Adhikar Forum (MJAF) is the most aggressive group towards journalists. The MJAF alone has been responsible for at least 16 cases of threats or violence against journalists since the start of the year, including incidents in Sunsari and Morang on 8 and 9 March.

Members of the Madhesi Tiger Nepal threatened all journalists with "severe reprisals" on 13 March. Members of the Madhesi Adhikar Janatantrik Forum (MJAF) attacked reporters Ram Sarraf, Dhruba Sah, Bhuwan Jha and Kiran Pande on 28 January and threatened to kill any journalists who tried to cover the rioting then taking place.

Members of the Young Communist League, a youth organisation linked to the Maoist party, were reportedly involved in harassing a journalist working for the Nepal One TV station on 27 May. Narayani Express employees have also been receiving threats for several months.

At times, no group claims responsibility for the threats or attacks but journalists think they bear the hallmarks of Maoist groups. Such is the case with the harassment of Shambu Sharki on 27 May, the repeated threats against distributors of the newspaper Kantipur in February and March and the threats against Santosh Neupane of the Narayani Express on 22 April

RSF said that this is an “alarming” trend. "Armed militants are harassing journalists with the aim of silencing them or turning them into propagandists. The authorities, especially the interior and information ministries, must do everything possible to put an end to this climate of open hostility. The government has a duty to ensure that the press is able to work, especially in the run-up to elections," the press rights group said.

RSF said, in particular, it calls on information and communication minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara, the spokesman of the government as well as the Maoist party, to quickly intercede with all affiliated organizations in order to get them to stop the attacks and threats against journalists.

The following is the list of incidents highlighting violence against the press:


List of attacks by armed and political groups since January 2007


Reporters Without Borders – June 2007


Maoist Youth Communist League (MYCL)
Attack: Death threats
Media group or worker targeted: Shaligram Pandey, Amar Khadka, Suman Giri, Shekhar Adhikari, Santosh Yadav
Reason behind the attack: Covering sensitive subject
Where: Itahari
When: March 26, 2007
***

Unidentified Maoist groups
Attack: Death threats and censorship
Media group or worker targeted: Khem Bhandari chief editor Abhiyan Daily
Reason behind the attack: Disturbing article
Where: Kanchanpur
When: March 26, 2007
***

Unidentified Maoist groups
Attack:Newspapers seized
Media group or worker targeted: Kantipur Daily
Reason behind the attack: The newspaper does give enough coverage to the group
Where: Dolakha
When: February 23, 2007
***

Unidentified Maoist groups
Attack: Newspapers seized
Media group or worker targeted: Kantipur Daily
Reason behind the attack: Disturbing article
Where: Kathmandu
When: March 22, 2007
***

Unidentified Maoist groups
Attack: Access denied
Media group or worker targeted:
Reason behind the attack: Around 20 Nepali and Indian journalists
Where: Janakpur
When: February 21, 2007
***

Unidentified Maoist groups
Attack: Regular death threats to the whole industry
Media group or worker targeted:
Reason behind the attack: Disturbing article
Where: Doti
When:
***

Unidentified Maoist groups
Attack: Assault
Media group or worker targeted: Shiva Kumar Shah radio Garima FM, Harinath Yadav from Jwarbhata
Reason behind the attack: Media covered the march organized by the group
Where:
When: Jan 21, 2007
***

Unidentified Maoist groups
Attack: Kidnapping
Media group or worker targeted: Krishna Lama Taja Khabar Weekly
Reason behind the attack: Disturbing article
Where: Kathmandu
When: Jan 4, 2007
***

Unidentified Maoist gruops
Attack: Threats
Media group or worker targeted: Santosh Neupane from Narayani Express National Daily
Reason behind the attack: Disturbing article
Where: Hatauda
When: April 22
***

Madhesi Tiger Nepal (MTN)
Attack: Various threats
Media group or worker targeted:
Reason behind the attack: Journalists apparently discriminate inhabitants of Terai region
Where: Nepalgunj
When: March 14, 2007
***

Madhesi Tiger Nepal (MTN)
Attack: Threats
Media group or worker targeted: All media
Reason behind the attack:
Where:
When: March 13, 2007
***

Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morchha (JTMM)
Attack: Threats
Media group or worker targeted: Image Channel Television et Radio Image FM
Reason behind the attack: Disturbing article
Where: Terai
When: May 10, 2007
***

Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morchha (JTMM)
Attack: Kidnapping
Media group or worker targeted: Rajendra Rai, Dewaan Rai Auzzar National Daily
Reason behind the attack:
Where: Saptari
When: January 12, 2007

***

Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morchha (JTMM)
Attack: Kidnapping
Media group or worker targeted: Bhaskar Lamsal Sunsari
Reason behind the attack:
Where: Bharadaha
When: Jan 5, 2007
***

Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morchha (JTMM)
Attack: Threats
Media group or worker targeted: Panchu Singh Bdgama VDC-6
Reason behind the attack:
Where: Saptari
When: March 9, 2007
***

Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morchha (JTMM)
Attack: Threats
Media group or worker targeted: Dependra Chauhan Radio Birgunj and Narayani Radio
Reason behind the attack: Media didn't cover the march organized by the group
Where: Birgunj
When: Jan 6, 2007
***

Madhesi Jana Adhikar Forum (MJAF)
Attack: Assault
Media group or worker targeted: Bikram Luitel Nepal FM 91.08 Mohan Manadhar Nepal Television Shambhu Bhandari Nepal1 Television Binod Bhandari Kantipur Daily Bijaya Pathak of Birat Darpan
Reason behind the attack: Media covered the march organized by the group
Where: Biratnagar
When: Jan 28, 2007
***

Madhesi Jana Adhikar Forum (MJAF)
Attack: Media house attacked
Media group or worker targeted: FM Birgunj
Reason behind the attack: Media covered the march organized by the group
Where: Birgunj
When: Jan 28, 2007
***

Madhesi Jana Adhikar Forum (MJAF)
Attack: Threat
Media group or worker targeted: Tula Adhikari, Roshan Puri, Rakesh Mishra, Gariblal Chaudhary Bageshwori FM
Reason behind the attack: Newspaper does not cover the group enough
Where: Nepalgunj
When: March 9, 2007
***

Madhesi Jana Adhikar Forum (MJAF)
Attack: Assault
Media group or worker targeted: Santosh Yadav Rajdhani, Aneel Adhikari Blast Times
Reason behind the attack:
Where: Sunsari
When: March 9, 2007
***

Madhesi Jana Adhikar Forum (MJAF)
Attack: Assault
Media group or worker targeted: Gopal Bhandari, Baraha Saptahik
Reason behind the attack:
Where: Morang
When: March 8, 2007
***
Madhesi Jana Adhikar Forum (MJAF)
Attack: Assault and newspaper burnt
Media group or worker targeted: Chiranjeevee Rijal, Bimal Lamichane, Bheem Prasad Nepal, Janabidroh
Reason behind the attack:
Where: Sunsari
When: March 9, 2007
***

Madhesi Jana Adhikar Forum (MJAF)
Attack: Threats on distribution
Media group or worker targeted: Lokadesh, Teari Express, Tej Khabar
Reason behind the attack: Media must also publish in local dialects
Where: Rautahat
When: March 15, 2007
***

Madhesi Jana Adhikar Forum (MJAF)
Attack: Threats
Media group or worker targeted: Santosh Neupane from Narayani Express National Daily
Reason behind the attack: Disturbing article
Where: Hetauda
When: April 22, 2007
***

Madhesi Jantantrik Forum (MJF)
Attack: Threats
Media group or worker targeted: Hari Sharma, Tika Ram Gaire
Reason behind the attack: Paper does not talk about the group enough
Where: Nawalparasi
When: February 2, 2007
***

Madhesi Jantantrik Forum (MJF)
Attack: Newspapers seized
Media group or worker targeted: Purba Sandesh
Reason behind the attack:
Where: Jhapa
When: Jan 2, 2007
***

Madhesi Jantantrik Forum (MJF)
Attack: Assault and Death threats
Media group or worker targeted: Ram Saraf, Dhruba Sah, Bhuwan Jha, Kiran Pande, Ram Bharat
Reason behind the attack: Media covered the march organized by the group
Where: Birgunj
When: Jan 28, 2007
***

Madhesi Jantantrik Forum (MJF)
Attack: Death threats
Media group or worker targeted: Shiva Puri of Kantipur
Reason behind the attack: Media covered the march organized by the group
Where: Birgunj
When: Jan 28, 2007
***

Tharu Kalyankari Sabha
Attack: Assault
Media group or worker targeted: Dharma Pal Raut, Shiva Narayan Shah from Rajbiraj Today
Reason behind the attack:
Where: Saptari
When: February 24, 2007
***

Young Communist League
Attack: Death threats
Media group or worker targeted: Yubaraj Adhikary from Radio Nepal
Reason behind the attack:
Where: Bardiya
When: Jan 7, 2007
***

Young Communist League
Attack: Regular death threats
Media group or worker targeted: Narayani Express
Reason behind the attack:
Where: Hetauda
When:
***

Young Communist League
Attack: Assault
Media group or worker targeted: Durga Prasad Sharma from Nepal One TV, Nepal Samacharpatra and Nepal FM 91.8
Reason behind the attack: Media covered the march organized by the group
Where: Parbat
When: May 27, 2007

***

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