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Nepal 9 June 2005

51 journalists held overnight for demanding press freedom

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the arrest of 51 journalists yesterday in Kathmandu while taking part in a demonstration organised by the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) to demand the restoration of press freedom. They were held overnight and released this morning.

"Nepal’s journalists have already been subject to censorship and repeated arrests ever since King Gyanendra assumed full powers on 1 February, and now they find themselves exposed to reprisals when they dare to demand the restoration of their rights," the press freedom organisation said.

The demonstrating journalists, who were demanding an end to the ban on news reporting by radio stations, were surrounded and manhandled by police when they crossed the perimeter of an area of streets near the royal palace in Kathmandu which has been declared a "restricted zone" for protesters.

The demonstrators were bundled into police vans and taken to the Mahendra police station in Kathmandu. Those detained included all of the FNJ leadership - president Bishnu Nisthuri (photo), vice-president Shiva Gaule, general secretary Mahendra Bista and secretary Balaram Baniya - and many other leading FNJ members such as Surya Thapa, Narayan Amrit, Purnat Basnet and Ramji Dahal. (JPEG) Several of the journalists, including Hemanta Kafle and Deepak Rijal, were roughed up and injured at the time of arrest. They were all freed this morning after being held for a total of 17 hours.

This was the largest number of journalists detained in a single operation since the government imposed its curbs on the press at the start of February. Police arrested nearly 300 journalists at an "illegal" demonstration in April 2004.

Before yesterday, the figure for journalists arrested and imprisoned since 1 February was at least 30, while 35 others had been briefly detained.

In this country
30 April - Nepal
Radio station threatened by Maoists
8 February - Nepal
Nepalese media in great danger, International Press Freedom Mission finds
14 January - Nepal
Four arrested for woman journalist’s murder, while clandestine group claims responsibility
12 January - Nepal
Journalist and women’s rights activist brutally murdered
23 December - Nepal
Militant maoists continue their attacks against the media

in the annual report
Nepal - Annual report 2008
Nepal - Annual report 2007
Nepal - Annual report 2006

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Mission report : A call to end violence and impunity
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Fact-finding visit by Reporters Without Borders to Swat “valley of fear”
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Asia press releases
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Pyongyang judges asked to be lenient with two American journalists
3 June - Afghanistan
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