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FNJ condemns anti-press attacks during NEFIN's nationwide protests

(FNJ/IFEX) - 20 May 2012 - The attention of the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) has been drawn towards a number of serious incidents involving attacks on journalists and the vandalisation of press vehicles from early in the morning of 20 May 2012. The incidents occurred in various parts of the country, including the Kathmandu Valley, during a strike called by the joint struggle committee of the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN).

FNJ condemns the Nepal Government and the police administration who remained mute spectators while the attacks on press and freedom of expression were happening right under their noses. FNJ also demands that these attacks on the press should be brought to an end and the government should provide compensation for the damaged vehicles belonging to the journalists and media houses, as well as provide treatment for those injured.

According to the information gathered by FNJ thus far:
- Dinesh Gautam, a journalist affiliated with Citizen FM was attacked and his motorcycle was vandalized by protesters in Boudha, Katmandu while he was taking photos of the demonstration at 8:30 am.
- Rajan Parajuli, a journalist affiliated with Antenna Foundation Nepal, was harassed and his motorcycle was also set ablaze despite the fact that he was displaying his press card to the protesters while he was heading to the office in Kupondole, Lalitpur at 7:30 am.
- Radheshyam Dahal, a journalist affiliated with Sagarmatha Television; Shakti Karki and Prakash Kattel, journalists affiliated with Road Map Weekly; and Biku Tamang, a journalist affiliated with the Federation of Sports Journalists, were mistreated and attacked as well as their motorcycles set ablaze by protesters in Sanepa, Lalitpur. The incident occurred while they were on their reporting assignment together and travelling on the two motorcycles. In addition, journalist Tamang was injured.
- Upendra Sharma, editor of Muktipatra Weekly, was also mistreated and his motorcycle vandalised in Lagankhel.
- Rajesh Rai and Shambhu Kumar Prasai, both journalists affiliated with Gorkhapatra Daily, and Bijay Chamling, affiliated with Rajdhani Daily, were mistreated in Chabahil, Kathmandu.
- YP Ghimire, a cameraperson for Himalaya Television, was attacked and his motorcycle set ablaze in Gwarko, Lalitpur.
- Dipendra Karki, a journalist affiliated with Karobar Daily, was mistreated and his motorcycle vandalised in Kupondole, Lalitpur.

The protesters also vandalised the vehicle of Kantipur Publications in Jorpati, Kathmandu, as the driver was returning after delivering the newspapers.
- In another incident, the protesters vandalised the vehicle of Kantipur Television in Buddhanagar, Kathmandu.
- The protesters also vandalised the vehicle of ABC Television while the news crew was heading out to collect information in Chabahil, Kathmandu. The protesters broke the steering and took the keys.
- A motorcycle belonging to ABC Television was vandalised in Gwarko, Lalitpur.
- The protesters also vandalised the vehicle of Avenues Television in Boudha, Kathmandu.
- Prakash Guragain, a journalist affiliated with Naya Patrika, was mistreated and his motorcycle was vandalized by the protesters at 12:00 pm in Gaushala, Kathmandu.
- Rohit Bhandari, a journalist affiliated with Mountain Television, was also attacked by protesters in Chabahil, Kathmandu. They also took his camera.
- Journalist Kabita Adhikari and cameraperson Mangal Lama, affiliated with Nepal 1 Television, were also harassed and their vehicle vandalised while they were returning from their news reporting assignment in Chabahil, Kathmandu. The protesters also attacked the cameraperson.
- Shambhu Dangal, a journalist affiliated with Capital FM, was attacked in Lalitpur while he was on his reporting assignment travelling on a bicycle. The protesters vandalised his bicycle and attacked him, voicing accusations that the Brahmins were not covering their news of the protests. Dangal sustained injuries to his knee.
- Saral Gurung, Satish Subedi, Akkal Kunwar and Punya Dhamala, all affiliated with Sagarmatha Television, were harassed in Kupondole, Lalitpur. The protesters set ablaze one motorcycle and vandalised another motorcycle the journalists from Sagarmatha Television were travelling in. The protestors also vandalised their two cameras.
- Nabraj Chalise, a journalist affiliated with Rajdhani Daily, was attacked and his motorcycle vandalised in Chabahil, Kathmandu.
- Ram Subhak Mahato and cameraperson Kesab Niroula, both of whom are affiliated with News 24 Television, were attacked by protesters and their camera seized in Gwarko, Lalitpur.
- A motorcycle belonging to Govinda Pariyar, affiliated with Nagarik Daily, was also vandalised by protesters in Chabhil, Kathmandu.
- Likewise, in Morang (Eastern region of Nepal) the protesters mistreated journalists Ganesh Niroula, Dhruba Bhattarai and Suresh Nepali, accusing them of not covering the news of their protests.
- In Tarhara of Sunsari (Eastern region of Nepal) journalist Damodar Guragain was mistreated by the protestors.
- In Sindhuli (Central region of Nepal), the protesters burnt copies of Janaboli Daily accusing the newspaper of not covering the news of their protests. The protestors also called the newspaper's office from a cell phone number and threatened the newspaper urging it to publish a written clarification at the Tamangsaling Party Office otherwise they would "blacklist" it.
- The protesters also vandalised a vehicle belonging to the Nepal Republic Media Pvt. Ltd. that was returning to the office in Nepalgunj after delivering newspapers in Butwal.

It is indeed a matter of deep concern that protesters who claim to be raising issues of their rights are now attacking and vandalising vehicles belonging to the media fraternity that has taken up the responsibility to inform the general public as well as assist in developing ideas. The FNJ believes this is against democratic values and requests all concerned parties to correct their behavior. FNJ also calls on the government to pay special attention to the security of journalists and arrange treatment for journalists who are injured, as well as provide immediate compensation for vehicles of journalists and media houses that have been damaged.
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