Vienna, 18 April 2006
We, the undersigned independent international organisations, express our grave concern over the targeting of media and outright violence towards the Nepalese people. We call on the King to intervene to restrain the army from use of excessive force and to begin to take urgent steps towards restoration of democracy in Nepal
Armed police and the Royal Nepal Army (RNA) have used excessive force, teargas and batons and fired indiscriminately at protestors in an attempt to control the mass protests across Nepal, which began on 6 April. There are news reports of eight people having been killed in this phase of protests.
Of particular concern is the targeted violence against journalists both reporting and participating in the popular protest demonstrations. This has included mass arrests of media persons and numerous incidents of journalists being brutally attacked by authorities while attempting to cover the demonstrations. Over 100 journalists and many more lawyers and other civil society activists have been arrested, over 24 journalists have been assaulted since the current phase of the pro-democracy movement began on 6 April. We are concerned about the 15 journalists and media workers who still remain in custody. Many of them were arrested without any legal notice and were physically assaulted by police prior to their arrest.
To see the complete list of journalists who were arrested and attacked between 5 - 13 April please visit : http://www.freemedia.at/PDFs/Nepal18.04.06_Appendix.pdf
We are also concerned over reports that plain clothed police and RNA members are infiltrating peaceful demonstrations and provoking both protestors and security personnel. It is particularly worrying that plain clothed RNA members infiltrated a peaceful demonstration in Kohalpur Bazaar of Banke on Monday 10 April, with concealed explosives. Fortunately they were recognised and stopped by UN staff.
The muzzling of independent news is also a matter of grave concern. The directive by the Information Minister to cable operators to stop telecasting Kantipur TV is not only a violation of press freedom, but a move that will deprive the citizens of Nepal of independent news.
We call on the international community to use their influence and apply pressure on the King of Nepal to restore democracy and human rights.
This statement is signed by the following members of the International Press Freedom and Freedom of Expression Mission to Nepal:
· ARTICLE 19
· Free Voice
· International Federation of Journalists
· International Media Support
· International Press Institute
· Reporters sans Frontières
· South Asia Press Commission
· United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation - UNESCO
· World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters - AMARC
· World Association of Newspaper
· World Press Freedom Committee
This statement has been drafted by the International Federation of Journalists, on behalf of the International Mission.
For further information, please contact:
Catherine Power - IPI
Phone: +43 1512 90 11
Thomas Hughes - IMS Deputy Director
Phone: +45 32 69 89 89
Faruq Faisel - IMS Mission Coordinator
Phone: + 977 1 4490063