Monday, January 19, 2009

Publishers and editors up in arms over assault on Himalmedia

NEPAL: Publishers and editors up in arms over assault on Himalmedia January 5, 2009

The Media Society and Editors' Alliance, alliances of publishers and editors of major media outlets in [Nepal], have issued a joint statement strongly condemning the attack by Maoist workers on Himalmedia, and have launched a protest programme beginning with blank editorials in all member newspapers, television and radio news programmes on Tuesday.

The protest editorials have appeared on Annapurna Post, The Himalayan Times, The Kathmandu Post, Kantipur, Nepal Samacharpatra, Rajdhani, Himalaya Times, Image Channel TV, Image News FM, Nepal, Kantipur TV, Kantipur FM,,, e-Kantipur, Newsfront, Nepali Times and Himal Khabarpatrika.

"This is the first in a series of escalating protests that our media companies will launch if the current organised attacks on us by groups affiliated to the ruling party are not stopped immediately," the statement said.

"We feel the attack on Himalmedia and other media houses represent a serious threat to press freedom, democracy and pluralism in this country, and it is ironical that it should be perpetrated by a group affiliated to a party that won the election and leads the government," it added.

The Media Society and Editors' Alliance group the publishers and owners of most of Nepal's major national newspapers and magazines, TV stations and radio and a meeting on Monday took serious note of the escalation of violent attacks on media.

The raid on Himalmedia on Sunday, in which 12 people were injured, was the latest in a series of attacks and threats against newspapers, TV stations and radio all over the country in the past.

"We feel enough is enough," they said in the statement. Besides blank editorials, TV stations will also carry a message after the signature tune instead of the headlines on their news broadcasts, and similar announcements on radio news bulletins and news portals.

Publishers and editors demanded the immediate arrest of two identified members of the attacking force on Himalmedia on Sunday, and said the government's handling of this case would be an indication of whether or not it is serious in addressing the pattern of "criminal" attacks on media.

They said the incidents of violent intimidation were politically motivated, and demanded a full public apology from the CPN-Maoists, a credible commitment not to repeat such attacks on the fourth estate and to abide by the rule of law. In turn, the publishers also said they will continue to abide by all the laws of the land.

The statement was signed by Kailash Sirohiya, Chairman of the Nepal Media Society and Kunda Dixit, convenor of the Editors' Alliance.

Four people arrested in connection with journalist's murder; another female journalist receives death threats
Country/Topic: Nepal

Date: 13 January 2009 Source: Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Person(s): Uma Singh, Manika Jha Target(s): journalist(s) Type(s) of violation(s): death threat , killed Urgency: Flash

(CPJ/IFEX) - The following is a 12 January 2009 CPJ press release:
Government must act to protect female journalists in Nepal
New York, January 12, 2009 - The Nepalese government must act immediately to protect female journalists in the wake of the brutal murder of one reporter and death threats made against another in the volatile Terai plains of southern Nepal, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
About 15 unidentified people attacked Uma Singh, a 24-year-old print and radio reporter, in her home in the southeastern district of Dhanusa on Sunday night, according to local and international news reports. Singh died of multiple stab wounds to the head and upper body while being transferred from a local hospital to a larger one later that evening.
Brij Kumar Yadav, Singh's editor at the Nepali-language daily Janakpur Today, told Agence France-Presse that her recent coverage of women's rights and local political issues could have been the cause of the attack.
The Kantipur news group also reported that its Dhanusa-based reporter Manika Jha was threatened in her home on Sunday by a group of three or four people who broke her windows and told her that she would be the next person to be attacked. Police provided a guard at her residence, according to the group's Web site, eKantipur.
Women journalists in Dhanusa demanded official protection in October 2008, claiming dozens had been forced to quit after threats from armed groups, eKantipur reported.
Sunday's attacks come just weeks after Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal publicly reaffirmed the government's commitment to protecting the press following an escalation of violent attacks on the media. News outlets raised an outcry after assailants struck the offices of the Himalmedia publishing company in December, with many newspapers leaving pages blank in protest.
"The violent death of our colleague Uma Singh is a tragedy and her attackers must be prosecuted," said Bob Dietz, CPJ Asia Program Coordinator. "This killing should act as a wake-up call to the Maoist-led government. For too long Nepal has failed to respond to female journalists in the Terai region and their calls for much-needed protection."
Singh also worked for the local FM station Radio Today, according to news reports. She opposed threats to women's rights - including the local tradition of costly dowries paid by the bride's family before marriage - and criticized political leaders involved in local unrest stemming from ethnic separatist movements, the reports said.
The local news Web site Republica reported on Monday that police had arrested four people in connection with Singh's murder. It quoted state-owned Nepal TV saying that a local political group had claimed responsibility for the slaying, saying it was committed "mistakenly." Other news outlets said the motive was still unknown.
Militant groups operating in the plains and low hills of the Terai advocate autonomy, and the region has seen outbreaks of violence since 2006, according to published analyses. Despite opening negotiations with some groups, the recently elected government, dominated by the Communist Party of Nepal, has failed to stem the aggression.
The Janakpur offices of the Terai Times were also attacked and staff assaulted on October 20 after the paper published articles alleging the Maoists' youth branch, the Young Communist League, was involved in local criminal activities, according to local and international news reports.
"It is a big problem working in the Terai region," Singh told the U.N. Mission in Nepal during an interview last year, which is available on YouTube. "Society doesn't accept (women) with equal perspectives. They say the work we have been doing is not good." She also described pressures from local organizations and armed groups. "If we don't air the news of their choice, they threaten us with killing," she said. But, she said, she and her colleagues did not bow to their orders. "We also have to balance our news."
CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide.

For more information, visit
Updates the Singh case:
For further information, contact Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz at CPJ, 330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA., tel: +1 212 465 1004, fax: +1 212 465 9568, e-mail:,,


Journalist and women's rights activist brutally murdered

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has voiced shock and horror at the brutal murder of journalist and human rights activist Uma Singh, 26, a correspondent for the "Janakpur Today" daily and Radio Today FM.
Singh was attacked by a gang of around 15 men on 11 January 2009
after she returned from work. The men burst into the room she rented in Janakpur, some 240 km south-east of the capital, and battered her repeatedly with sharp objects in front of other tenants. She died of her injuries shortly before midnight while being driven to the capital.
"Our first thoughts are with her family and friends. We ask the authorities to react quickly and to do their utmost to protect journalists in Nepal and to quickly arrest this group of killers. This kind of appalling murder must not go unpunished if the Nepalese press is to go about its work freely," the worldwide press freedom organisation said.
The Federation of Nepalese Journalists also condemned the attack and is sending a team to the spot to investigate the killing. Dharmendra Jha, president of the organisation and a former professor of Singh, said he was very shocked by what had happened. "She was my pupil and I encouraged her to go in for committed journalism," he told satellite television CNN.
Police have so far not identified any motive for the killing. Some of Uma Singh's articles made waves in the region, particularly those in which she criticised the dowry system, a widespread tradition in Nepal obliging the family of a bride to pay a significant sum of money and to give land to the husband before the marriage.
Human Rights Watch said that some of the attackers could be linked to the Communist Party of Nepal, the largest party in the ruling coalition, headed by Pushpa Kamal Dahal or "Prachanda", who led a Maoist rebellion for a decade before becoming prime minister.
Singh's murder is the latest in a long list of arrests and murders of journalists in Nepal in recent months. Three journalists were killed last year and one was kidnapped. Nepalese journalists plan to hold a demonstration on 15 January to urge the government to provide them with protection.

For further information, contact Vincent Brossel, RSF, 47, rue Vivienne, 75002 Paris, France, tel: +33 1 44 83 84 70, fax: +33 1 45 23 11 51, e-mail:, Internet:

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