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CEHURDES condemns disruption in newspaper group's operations by Maoist-affiliated union

(CEHURDES/IFEX) - CEHURDES, a Kathmandu-based freedom of expression monitoring group, condemns the disruption in Kantipur Publication group's newspapers by Maoist-affiliated trade union.

The Maoist-affiliated All Nepal Communication, Printing and Publication Workers' Union disrupted the collection and publication of advertisements in Kantipur Publication's newspapers on 26 September 2007.

"The Maoist fraternal organization has started working to bring down the publications economically and attack press freedom in the name of fulfilling its demands," Managing Director of Publications Kailash Sirohiya said in a press statement issued on 26 September.

The attack against Kantipur Publication is the latest by pro-Maoist workers in a series of similar attacks and disruptions also affecting other newspapers such as "Nepal Samacharpatra", "The Himalayan Times" and "Annapurna Post" (see IFEX alerts of 17 and 13 August, and 23 July 2007).

The Maoist-affiliated union had disrupted the publication of "The Himalayan Times" and "Annapurna Post" in the third week of July and "Nepal Samacharpatra" a few weeks before that.

Kantipur Publication newspaper group claims that the union suddenly announced agitation and issued an ultimatum giving management until 25 September to fulfill their demands even though management had reached an understanding to fulfill them and was preparing to sign the agreement on 10 September.

Kantipur Publications has said that it has been implementing the Working Journalists Act and Regulations, and has publicly expressed commitment to fully enforce the recently amended Act and its forthcoming regulations.

CEHURDES is deeply worried by the repetition of actions aimed at derailing free media in the name of fulfilling union demands. CEHURDES believes in the right of workers to collective bargaining for their legitimate demands, but it cannot condone the action of disrupting the publication and distribution of newspapers and believes that it is a blatant attack on press freedom and a violation of people's right to information.

CEHURDES would like to remind the Maoist leaders of their commitment to free and independent media and hopes that such actions are ended. They must rein in their union activists and find ways to resolve grievances through negotiations.

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