Maoist leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara has apologised for the murder of journalist Dekendra Raj Thapa (photo) in a letter sent on 11 September to the leadership of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ). "We accept that it was a mistake by the party (...). We promise the Nepalese journalist community that we will not make this kind of mistake in the future", said Krishna Bahadur Mahara. He also said that he had told all the different Maoist groups to free kidnapped journalists. Vice-president of the FNJ Gopal Budhathoki told Agence France-Presse that Maoist leaders had made similar promises in the past but had not kept to them. Budhathoki gave notice that the FNJ would launch a major campaign if the Maoists resumed killing or kidnapping journalists.
Journalist executed by Maoists
Reporters Without Borders expressed shock and outrage today at the murder of reporter Dekendra Raj Thapa, of the pro-government Radio Nepal, who the pro-Maoist Communist Party of Nepal said it had executed on 11 August, according to a 16 August party leaflet. He had been kidnapped on 26 June and is the second journalist to be killed in Nepal this year.
"We are revolted by this barbaric murder," it said, noting that the party’s leader, Pushpan Kamal Dahal (better known as "Comrade Prachanda"), had been put on the Reporters Without Borders worldwide list of 37 "predators of press freedom."
Thap was kidnapped in Dailekh (500 km west of Kathmandu) by Maoist troops who accused him of spying for the government. Among 10 charges against him was one of helping to organise a ceremony to honour King Gyanendra in April. The leaflet, signed by "Comrade Ranajeet," the local party secretary, said he was executed after being found guilty of spying.
Thap was a keen rights activist and had been an adviser to the independent Human Rights and Peace Society (HURPES).
The news of his execution came the day after the Maoists released another journalist, Durga Thapa, in the western district of Surkhet, who had also been accused of spying.
Since a ceasefire broke down in August last year, the rebels have plunged the country into new violence, reviving their "people’s war" against the monarchy and feudalism and seizing control of more half the country. Last year they killed at least three journalists.
Nepalese journalists are caught between the army and the rebels. Padma Raj Devkota, editor of the fortnightly Bhurichula, was killed by army troops in the western district of Jumla in February.