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Nepal 6 June 2007

At least 72 journalists attacked or threatened by armed groups since start of year

Reporters Without Borders voiced concern today about the safety of journalists in southern Nepal where armed groups are becoming increasingly active. At least 72 journalists have been attacked or threatened since 1 January by groups that use violence against the media and the civilian population in general. A list of the main incidents involving armed groups accompanies this release.

"This is alarming," the press freedom organisation said. "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."

In particular, Reporters Without Borders 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 organisations in order to get them to stop the attacks and threats against journalists.

Although the Maoists agreed to lay down their arms in April 2006, more and more rebel groups are emerging Nepal, threatening the peace process and the work of journalists, above all in the Terai region. According to information released by the interior ministry, at least nine armed groups are active and do not hesitate to resort to violence.

In some cases, they criticise journalists for producing reports that highlight their abuses. In other cases, their motive for attacking journalist is the lack of coverage of their activities.

In one of the most recent cases, 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. 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.

PDF - 64.9 kb
List Attacks 2007

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

4 May 2009 - Nepal
Mission report : A call to end violence and impunity
2 April 2009 - Pakistan
Fact-finding visit by Reporters Without Borders to Swat “valley of fear”
16 March 2009 - Afghanistan
Report of fact-finding mission : Press freedom in free-fall in run-up to presidential election

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Asia press releases
3 June - North Korea
Pyongyang judges asked to be lenient with two American journalists
3 June - Afghanistan
US forces arrest a journalist in Khost
3 June - China
“Tank Man” photo displayed outside Chinese embassy in Paris on eve of Tiananmen Square massacre
2 June - China
Blocking of Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Blogger deprives Chinese of Web 2.0
2 June - Sri Lanka
Press freedom activist badly beaten in Colombo, hospitalised