Security forces clamp down on Nepalese news

Press freedom in Nepal is in jeopardy as the Government attempts to ban FM radio news reports.

Members
of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) formed a human wall
around one of the leading stations, Kantipur FM, to protect it from
being stormed by security forces.

The station lost vital equipment when forces seized its premises on 21 October.

An
FNJ spokesman said: “The latest attack on the FM station constitutes
the extreme form of autocratic practice by a government that has
mimicked the democratic process and the country’s constitution ever
since the King took over state power on 1 February.

“The
federation looks on it as part of the Government’s designs to force the
Nepalese people to live in a society minus information and to prolong
the regime’s life.”

On Saturday, 15 journalists were arrested at
a peaceful rally in the capital, Kathmandu, protesting at increasingly
stringent censorship. FNJ president Bishu Nisthuri was denied access to
the detainees.

A day earlier, plain clothes officers beat up
reporter Ram Bahadur Rawal in his home district of Bajura. He sustained
serious injuries to his head and eyes.

The United Nations has
written to the FNJ expressing its solidarity. The chef de cabinet to
Kofi Annan, Mark Malloch Brown, wrote: “Journalists should benefit from
the protections afforded them by the Declaration on the Right and
Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote
and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental
Freedoms, among other international human rights instruments.”

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